The President has a huge PR problem on his hands. How Donald Trump keeps his campaign promise to kill the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and remains on good terms with our Asian allies and trading partners may be as simple as a change in semantics. In other words, he’s simply going to call it another name; The Trade-in-Services Agreement (TISA). And some are saying the deal is much worse than the TPP ever was.
According to the source who has inside documentation, the TISA, “if passed would prohibit regulations on the financial industry, eliminate laws to safeguard online or digital privacy, render illegal any ‘buy local’ rules at any level of government, effectively dismantle any public advantages to be derived from state-owned enterprises and eliminate net neutrality.” Some have said that keeping financial institutions in check has been the only thing preventing another global financial crisis. And while the citizens’ right to privacy is currently somewhat tenuously protected by privacy laws, hardly anyone can imagine the impact losing those privacies would entail.
TISA’s specifics are shrouded in secrecy, with Wikileaks and Bilaterls being the only ones to have published any information related to its details.
According to Counter Punch, “Earlier draft versions of TISA’s language would prohibit any restrictions on the size, expansion or entry of financial companies and a ban on new regulations, including a specific ban on any law that separates commercial and investment banking, such as the equivalent of the U.S. Glass-Steagall Act. It would also ban any restrictions on the transfer of any data collected, including across borders; place social security systems at risk of privatization or elimination; and put an end to Internet privacy and net neutrality.”
Just in case one might be tempted to think the TISA is just hearsay, rumor, or the fodder of conspiracy theorists, the facts are that over 50 countries are actively engaged in negotiations to enact TISA. “The European Union is negotiating TISA on behalf of its 28 member countries, along with, among others, the United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Chile, Colombia, Peru, Norway, Switzerland, Pakistan and Turkey,” according to the documents.
It’s possible some countries are already making moves to allow for the financial takeover. Over the last few months, India has reclaimed most of its currency in circulation by forcing its holders to surrender their currency to the banks or lose their wealth forever. The new currency will replace the old but in order to make the exchange, all cash holding citizens must surrender their bills to the banks to have its value sustained.
According to the Government of Sweden’s fact sheet on TISA, the goal of the agreement is pretty straightforward, largely resembling (for lack of a better analogy) a global NAFTA. They write:
The basic premise is to further develop the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) and create a better and more predictable agreement. The aim is for the agreement to eventually be integrated into the WTO. New countries are officially welcome and a number of countries have joined in since the start. If more countries joined, the benefits of TiSA would increase. This would also be a step towards integrating TiSA into the WTO. One key issue is the participation of China, which requested in 2013 to be allowed to take part in the negotiations. China’s entry to TiSA has clear political support from the EU.
TISA’s internet regulations, which have been dubbed “a virtual copy-and-paste out of the TPP’s Electronic Commerce chapter,” will most likely be rammed through by those who stand to gain from it — mega corporations and government who want to control the flow of digital information.
As the European Digital Rights (EDRi) stated in a letter opposing the Orwellian data measures in TISA:
Fundamental rights must be respected and not negotiated upon. Therefore, data flows–which refer to transfers of individuals’ personal data–must not be part of trade agreements. Trade negotiations are not suitable for shaping rules affecting fundamental rights and the rule of law in a democratic society.