A previous article discussed a trade agreement most people never heard of – involving 51 countries and over two-thirds of world trade in services.
In 2014, WikiLeaks released a secret TISA Financial Services Annex. A leaked February 2015 TISA text revealed updated provisions worse than last year’s draft.
On July 2, WikiLeaks released a new draft text. Public Citizen President Robert Weissman commented saying:
“Our analysis of a leaked version of the draft agreement, along with a draft annex on financial services, identifies threats to rules and policies ranging from limits on overall bank size to consumer protections, from prophylactic protections against new speculative financial instruments to limits on transfers of personal financial data.”
“It is unimaginable that such an agreement is under negotiation while the global economy is still recovering from the most severe crisis since the Great Depression, and while Greece and other countries are still reeling from developments related to the crisis.”
Lessons learned from the 2008-09 financial crisis were systematically ignored. Weissman called for suspending TISA negotiations, publishing texts being considered in full, and doing nothing further without “proper public debate about their radical deregulatory maneuvers.”
Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch explained “10 key (TISA) threats to common sense financial regulations.” Like TPP and TTIP, TISA negotiations are conducted secretly to conceal enormously harmful anti-consumer provisions.
They’ll require countries involved to roll back financial regulations more than already – affecting banking, stocks and bonds, foreign exchange, insurance, credit cards, financial data processing, credit-rating, reinsurance, derivatives and other financial services.
Ten key threats Global Trade Watch cites include:
1. Restricting policies limiting financial risk: Unregulated “market access” is mandated. Nations banning or restricting risky financial services or products like derivatives face legal challenges before “extrajudicial (corporate-run) tribunals.” Firewall protections to prevent the spread of risks are prohibited.
2. Offshoring sensitive consumers’ financial data is permitted – ignoring privacy concerns by exposing this information to unwarranted surveillance.
3. Governments are required to “predict all regulations” potentially harmful to TISA-mandated unrestricted “market access.” Failure could be challenged as a treaty violation subject to possible trade sanctions.
4. New financial regulations not conforming to TISA-mandated deregulatory rules are prohibited. Its so-called “standstill” measures forbid instituting new regulations to respond to “emerging financial products and risks.” Governments can’t enact policies in any way restricting unlimited “market access.”
5. Capital controls preventing or mitigating financial crises are prohibited. Past lessons learned are ignored. TISA substitutes anything goes. The only exception is in case of balance-of-payment crises. Even then, temporary measures alone are permitted, “phased out progressively” – meaning protections instituted would no longer be in place in case similar future crises erupt.
6. Financial products not yet created must be accepted regulatory-free – no matter how risky. TISA’s Annex on Financial Services states governments “shall permit” foreign firms to introduce any new financial service or product as long as it doesn’t require a new law or change in existing ones.
Global Trade Watch explains this caveat won’t “exclude many new financial products from the sweeping rule, as the introduction of a new product often does not require” new laws or change in existing ones.
7. Governments may exempt foreign financial companies from “prudential” domestic regulations if their home countries have roughly “equivalent” financial systems. This practice in other areas weakens safeguard protections.
Alternately, governments may “harmoniz(e)” their financial relations to conform to standards negotiated with other TISA signatories. Past harmonizations in non-financial sectors show established safeguards are replaced by secretly negotiated new ones – weakening regulatory protections.
8. Governments must publish proposed financial regulations so “interested persons” can comment before they’re established. In other words, obstruct, delay and ultimately weaken or prevent their implementation.
9. Governments are prohibited from preferring domestic firms when contracting for financial services. Foreign ones must get equal access.
10. Weak “prudential measures” prevent effective challenges to harmful TISA mandates. They override national laws.
Global Trade Watch explains TISA provisions “impose binding constraints on a broad swath of domestic safeguards, including financial regulations.”
Like NAFTA, TPP, TTIP, and other Western initiated trade deals, corporate interests are empowered over national ones and consumer protections.