Uruguay has ended its participation in the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA), becoming the only known country to exit the secretive trade agreement led by the United States. Uruguay was pressured by its domestic unions and other local movements to leave the agreement.
Countries throughout the world have been extremely secretive of TISA, not wanting the public to know anything about its existence or its purpose.
However, TISA is said to be one of the most important trade agreements in the entire world.
WikiLeaks essentially says that TISA is the most important of three major treaties that are designed to help the United States in trade. The other treaties are the TransPacific Partnership and the TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Pact.
More countries are involved with TISA than the other two treaties combined.
The countries included in the treaty are: The United States and all 28 members of the European Union, Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Hong Kong, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Liechtenstein, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan and Turkey.
These countries have formed a group called the “Really Good Friends of Services”. Together the 52 countries control nearly 70% of all service trading worldwide.
Uruguay was supposed to be the 53rd member.
TISA has been secretly developed over the past two years. The agreement’s provisional text states that the document is supposed to remain confidential and that the public cannot see its contents for a minimum of five years after the treaty has been signed.
Additionally, the World Trade Organization has been barred from participating in negotiations.
Several requirements of TISA have been exposed thanks to organizations like WikiLeaks. Some of these mandates include the locking-in of the privatization of services, restricting the ability of participating governments to regulate areas such as environmental standards and financial services, and banning most restrictions regarding cross-border flows of information concerning a country’s own citizens.
TISA would also establish a “global enclosure system” that is designed to protect the interests of corporations by reducing their financial risk and removing both their social and environmental responsibilities.
Uruguay exiting TISA is probably not going to stop the treaty from coming into effect. The country has a small population of only 3.4 million people, and it has limited political and economic power.
The Obama administration has already been granted fast-approval on such trade agreements by the United States Congress. Meanwhile, the European Commission should also have no problems putting this treaty into effect.
However, Uruguay’s exit does have some important symbolic purpose. By exiting the negotiations, Uruguay has shown that it is indeed possible to leave major global negotiations and that seemingly inevitable deals can be pulled back.
The country reportedly exited negotiations due to disagreements over superficial details of the implications of the treaty.
Unfortunately for Uruguay, leaving the treaty will probably be detrimental to its corporations in the global market. That said, it’s impressive that the tiny country was able to stand up to the rest of the world like that.
It remains to be seen if any other countries will follow the example put forth by Uruguay.