Alarm raised over ser­vices trade pact

The Myanmar Times - - International Business -

LABOUR rights groups and en­vi­ron­men­tal cam­paign­ers have sounded the alarm over a prospec­tive trade agree­ment cov­er­ing the ser­vices sec­tor cur­rently be­ing ham­mered out be­hind closed doors in Geneva.

Ac­tivists warned the Trade in Ser­vices Agree­ment (TiSA) could spear­head a vast pri­vati­sa­tion drive in pub­lic ser­vices world­wide while ham­per­ing ef­forts to im­ple­ment the Paris cli­mate agree­ment.

TiSA is be­ing ne­go­ti­ated by 22 coun­tries and the EU, and aims to lib­er­alise the sprawl­ing ser­vices sec­tor that cov­ers all in­tan­gi­ble goods – from fi­nan­cial ser­vices to trans­port to health­care.

Few de­tails have emerged from the ne­go­ti­a­tions that have been taken place since 2013, al­though cer­tain coun­tries have pub­lished po­si­tion pa­pers and some doc­u­ments have been leaked, in­clud­ing by Wik­ileaks. Ac­tivists claim it aims to give far too much in­flu­ence to cor­po­ra­tions.

Green­peace Nether­lands cam­paigner Su­san Co­hen Je­ho­ram raised spe­cific con­cerns about pos­si­ble TiSA mea­sures that would dereg­u­late the en­ergy ser­vices and min­ing sec­tors.

Cit­ing the leaked, pro­vi­sional doc­u­ments, Ms Je­ho­ram said TiSA “in­cludes mea­sures that tie the hands of the very pol­icy mak­ers who are try­ing to im­ple­ment the Paris cli­mate agree­ment”.

Pub­lic Ser­vices In­ter­na­tional, an um­brella union rep­re­sent­ing mil­lions of pub­lic sec­tor work­ers world­wide, were con­cerned over pos­si­ble moves to push through pri­vati­sa­tion in ar­eas rang­ing from postal ser­vices to water sup­ply.

“Do we re­ally want to hand­cuff our gov­ern­ments’ abil­ity to reg­u­late in­no­va­tions that we can’t con­ceive of at the present time?” Daniel Ber­tossa, di­rec­tor of pol­icy and gov­er­nance at PSI, told re­porters.

Be­fore the brief­ing, a hand­ful of Green­peace ac­tivists staged a de­mon­stra­tion out­side the US Mis­sion in Geneva.

TiSA ne­go­tia­tors – in­clud­ing the United States, Turkey and Aus­tralia – have said they want to fi­nalise a deal by the end of the year.

– AFP

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