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TISA trade talks will lock NZ into finance rules behind GFC

20 June 2014

Wikileaks: Secret TISA trade talks will lock NZ into finance rules behind the GFC

‘While our eyes have been focused on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), the New Zealand government has been negotiating an equally secretive deal with 22 other, largely rich parties, with the EU representing 28 member states’, said Auckland University law professor Jane Kelsey.

Today, Wikileaks posted the first major leak from the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) negotiations, which were launched in the shadows of the World Trade Organization (WTO) several years ago.

The leaked document and Professor Kelsey’s analysis are at wikileaks.org/tisa-financial

TISA aims to bypass resistance in the WTO to a radical extension of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), an agreement that ties countries to a neoliberal regime for services. The next round of TISA negotiations starts in Geneva next week.

‘The leaked chapter on financial services shows the US and EU are driving the TISA process. It was their lax rules that allowed the Global Financial Crisis to happen. Now they are using TISA to extend those rules even further, at the bidding of their finance industry’, said Professor Kelsey.

‘Worse, they want to impose a standstill on new regulation. That means the parties to TISA would have to bind their current hands-off approach to financial regulation, so they can’t tighten it in the future.’

‘That is both scary and reckless for a country like New Zealand, which is positioned at the extremes of the so-called “risk-tolerant approach” to financial regulation’, Professor Kelsey warned.

The US and EU, which are the main promoters of the leaked text, have repeatedly blocked moves to debate how the WTO’s rules contributed to the GFC and possible reforms.

Professor Kelsey observed that the IMF’s researchers have repeatedly criticised affluent countries at the centre of the latest crisis for failing to lean from the crisis, and that they remain in a ‘state of denial.’

‘These governments propose to lock the world into a system of financial rules that have failed, and set the scene for future financial crises. But they want to protect themselves from accountability for what they have done’.

The cover sheet of the leaked text shows an unprecedented level of secrecy surrounding TISA. Background documents cannot be released for five years after the Agreement comes into force. The super-secret TPPA protects the documents for four years.

The US seems likely to be pushing similar rules through the financial services chapter of the TPPA. If so, the TPPA’s investment chapter would provide a platform for the finance industry to use the power of investors to sue a New Zealand government that sought to tighten the finance rules.

ENDS

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