The international trade in services is big business, comprising between half and three quarters of all economic activity in richer and poorer countries. This is a lucrative market which the world’s transnational corporations want to control. They want services to be treated purely as commodities to be bought and sold in a competitive market.

Services have been described as anything that you cannot drop on your foot, including banks, education, energy, healthcare, water, rubbish collection, libraries, railways, airlines, tourism, TV and radio.

Under the WTO’s GATS (General Agreement on Trade in Services), and the services provisions in bilateral and regional free trade agreements, governments agree to open the economy to foreign suppliers of certain services. In those services, foreign suppliers must be given at least as favourable treatment as it gives to local suppliers. Governments cannot set limits on the numbers of service suppliers operating in its market or impose requirements for local content.

Free trade in services threatens to restrict a government’s ability to ensure access to affordable, adequate basic services for all its citizens by removing any restrictions and internal government regulations in the area of service delivery considered to be "barriers to trade". These include measures which pursue environmental, social or community objectives.

Services liberalization provisions of bilateral FTAs often go further than governments’ GATS commitments. For example, while Australia excluded water ‘services’ from its GATS offer, this is included under its FTA with the USA, opening up Australia’s water resources and utilities to US-based TNCs.

last update: May 2012


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  • 30-Aug-2015 Electronic Frontier Fondation Newly released emails reveal cozy relationship between US trade officials and industry reps over secret TiSA deal
    Multinational corporations have been more than thrilled to take advantage of secretive trade negotiations process to get their wish list of policies through the backdoor.
  • 29-Aug-2015 Electronic Frontier Fondation TISA and tech’s double standards on secret government Internet deals
    The stash of previously-secret correspondence about the Trade In Services Agreement (TISA) speaks volumes about the extent to which technology companies into the dangerous idea that trade agreements should be used to govern the Internet.
  • 28-Aug-2015 Rebelión TISA: Amenazante secreto ofensivo
    La discusión de las reglas de este acuerdo se enfocan –en la actualidad– al comercio de servicios que prestan ahora los gobiernos, según la red Internacional de Servicios Públicos (PSI), con sede en París.
  • 26-Aug-2015 TNI How TiSA strolls off with our services
    While TTIP is currently the center of attention, our world leaders discuss TiSA, an extensive service agreement meant to put (public) services, like the water supply, in the hands of the international market.
  • 24-Aug-2015 Want China Times Taiwan must open up service sector with TiSA’s arrival
    The Taiwanese government has turned its focus to the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) currently being negotiated by 25 countries and regions that account for 70% of the global trade in services.
  • 11-Aug-2015 La Jornada Auténticos amigos de las trasnacionales
    El acuerdo de Comercio en Servicios que negocian en secreto gobiernos de 50 países, incluido México (TISA por sus siglas en inglés), supera todo lo que se ha visto hasta el momento en materia de tratados internacionales en pos de dar beneficios irrestrictos a las empresas trasnacionales, contra los intereses y el bien público.
  • 5-Aug-2015 War on Want TTIP, CETA, TISA and public services
    What is the threat from free trade agreements to public services?
  • 30-Jul-2015 El Destape Web TiSA vs. Nuevo Banco de Desarrollo: dos propuestas antagónicas
    Los bancos centrales del bloque BRICS apuestan al Nuevo Banco del Desarrollo, mientras que los países centrales al libre comercio de servicios, llamado TiSA.
  • 30-Jul-2015 Entorno Inteligente Maduro advierte que TISA es "un proyecto agresivo de recolonización"
    El Mandatario Nacional instó este viernes a los pueblos de la región a prestar atención al tratado internacional TISA (en sus siglas en inglés) -Acuerdo en Comercio de Servicios- que integran 24 países, donde figuran Estados Unidos y la Unión Europea.
  • 24-Jul-2015 Tercera Información IU llama a la defensa de la educación pública frente al TiSA
    IU llama a todas las organizaciones comprometidas con la defensa de la educación pública y la democracia a movilizarse para asegurar que el Estado cumpla su responsabilidad como garantes del derecho a la educación impidiendo que acuerdos como el TISA hipotequen en secreto el futuro de la población y su derecho a la educación.
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  • Coalition of Service Industries
    CSI is the leading US business organization dedicated to the reduction of barriers to US services exports, and to the development of constructive domestic US policies, including tax policies, that enhance the global competitiveness of its members. Website covers bilateral FTAs.
  • ESF
    The European Services Forum (ESF) is a network of representatives from the European services sector. We are committed to actively promoting the interests of the European services sector and the liberalisation of services markets throughout the world in connection with the GATS negotiations.