to read the 28-page study from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, click on
link to www.world-psi.org
Treating public services as commodities for trade creates a fundamental misconception of public
services. The Trade in Services Agreement (TISA), currently being negotiated in secret and outside
of World Trade Organization rules, is a deliberate attempt to privilege the profits of the richest
corporations and countries in the world over those who have the greatest needs.
Public services are designed to provide vital social and economic necessities - such as health care and
education - affordably, universally and on the basis of need. Public services exist because markets will
not produce these outcomes. Further, public services are fundamental to ensure fair competition for
business, and effective regulation to avoid environmental, social and economic disasters - such as the
global financial crisis and global warming. Trade agreements consciously promote commercialisation
and define goods and services in terms of their ability to be exploited for profit by global corporations.
Even the most ardent supporters of trade agreements admit that there are winners and losers in this
The winners are usually powerful countries who are able to assert their power, multinational
corporations who are best placed to exploit new access to markets, and wealthy consumers who can
afford expensive foreign imports. The losers tend to be workers who face job losses and downward
pressure on wages, users of public services and local small businesses which cannot compete with
The TISA is among the alarming new wave of trade and investment agreements founded on legallybinding
powers that institutionalise the rights of investors and prohibit government actions in a wide
range of areas only incidentally related to trade.
The TISA will prevent governments from returning public services to public hands when privatisations
fail, restrict domestic regulations on worker safety, limit environmental regulations and consumer
protections and regulatory authority in areas such as licensing of health care facilities, power plants,
waste disposal and university and school accreditation.
This agreement will treat migrant workers as commodities and limit the ability of governments to
ensure their rights. Labour standards should be set by the tripartite International Labour Organization
(ILO) and not be covered by trade agreements.
Incredibly, in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, the TISA also seeks to further deregulate
financial markets. We know that large corporate interests are heavily involved in the TISA negotiations