One day after it announced an effort to crowdsource a $100,000 bounty payable to anyone who hands over the full draft text of the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, WikiLeaks released an apparently complete draft of another major trade deal, the Trade In Services Agreement.
The deal is being negotiated by representatives of more than 50 countries that combine to produce two-thirds of the world’s GDP, and, as its name indicates, it would cover trade in services — everything from telecommunications to air travel to financial services. The service sector now accounts for up to 80 percent of U.S. GDP, depending on how it is measured. On Wednesday, trade figures released by the Commerce Department found that the service sector played a major role in the decreasing U.S. trade deficit as the sale of U.S. services abroad hit a record $60.9 billion.
WikiLeaks noted in a release that this was not the first time it has been able to shed light on the ongoing TISA discussions. “The TISA release today follows the WikiLeaks publication of the secret draft financial services annex of the TISA negotiations on 19 June 2014 showing the aim to further deregulate the financial sector, despite widespread consensus that lack of oversight and regulation was the main cause of the last global financial crisis of 2008,” the group said. “Today's release confirms the ongoing determination to deregulate. Furthermore, standstill clauses will tie the hands of future governments to implement changes in response to changing environment.”
Opponents of TPP and other trade deals cheered the release and said that some of the elements revealed in the documents, including proposals to further deregulate international financial services, are a strong argument against giving President Obama what’s known as Trade Promotion Authority, or the authority to bring a completed agreement before Congress for a simple up-or-down vote, with no possibility of amendments.
“Once again WikiLeaks reveals what we cannot learn from our own government, a government that defaults to prefer giant trade deals that affect generations of Americans shrouded in secrecy until they are virtually adopted,” said Communications Workers of America President Larry Cohen.
However, one expert in international trade warned that it would be unwise to read too much into the draft language released by WikiLeaks Wednesday.
“They look like working documents,” said Scott Miller who holds the William M. Scholl Chair in International Business at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “Most of them have plenty of text that is in brackets. Bracketed texts are simply proposals. They aren’t agreed to by anybody.”
The former director for global trade policy at Procter & Gamble, Miller said the drafts were essentially depicting a moment in time during negotiations that have been going on for years.
“At some point in time this was the status of discussions between negotiators,” he said. “It’s been a long time coming, it’s fairly slow moving, and I think a lot of that has to do with the complexity of services trade.”
Miller said that it would be difficult to look at the documents released Wednesday and draw anything other than general conclusions about the state of negotiations.
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