As Trump Exits TPP, New Book Illuminates Draconian "Backup" Deal
January 29, 2017
"Beyond Banksters is the ultimate handbook on the state of politics and economics in Canada and around the world. It is a stunning wake-up call!" - Economic Reform, Nov/Dec 2016
COMOX, BC - After decades of being mostly ignored by the public, international trade deals have taken centre stage in the news, as U.S. president Donald Trump follows through on his campaign promises to renegotiate NAFTA and withdraw from the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).
Trump's victory was partly a result of a rising tide of voter anger in the U.S. industrial heartland over the impacts of trade deals, such as 1994's NAFTA and the not-yet-ratified TPP.
Since NAFTA was implemented, an estimated 700,000 jobs have been lost in the U.S. to increased imports, and wages in the manufacturing sector have plummeted - some workers are making 20 per cent less now than before NAFTA was enacted.
However, as detailed by Joyce Nelson in her latest book, Beyond Banksters, Resisting the New Feudalism, some of the worst threats posed by existing and up-and-coming trade deals are still flying under the radar. Beyond Banksters is the first book from the new publishing arm of the Watershed Sentinel magazine, western Canada's award-winning environmental news source.
Nelson names the people responsible and outlines the steps which have allowed trade deals to open up public services to corporate takeover and limit our ability to control banks and investment corporations.
In discussing NAFTA, TPP and CETA (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement), Nelson references Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanisms, which are written in some form into each agreement:
"The ISDS, first introduced in NAFTA, allows foreign corporations to sue governments over policy decisions or regulations that harm their future profits.. As of January 2015, there had been 37 known ISDS claims against Canada under NAFTA, with settled awards to corporations totaling about C$172 million. As well, Canada has spent over $65 million on ISDS court costs and legal fees - which can average $8 million per case - and still faces more than $2.6 billion in pending claims."
While the ISDS mechanism has produced some public concern over its chill effect on governments' ability to regulate in the public interest, it is her chapter on the little-known Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) that is most alarming:
"In addition to CETA, TTIP, and TPP, there is a fourth pending agreement that seems to be the back-up agreement in case the other agreements fail. It's a clever strategy, because while millions are aware of the other deals, few even know about TISA . TISA was dreamed up by the Global Services Coalition, whose members include Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase, MetLife, Prudential, Verizon, and Wal-Mart [and] involves 50 countries, including every advanced economy except the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa)."
Nelson reports that WikiLeaks released several chapters of the secret TISA negotiations in May 2016, including the financial services annex. She cites Pete Dolack's analysis of the leaks: "The financial services annex of TISA 'specifically references central banks, the social security system and public retirement systems.. Financiers around the world would dearly love to get their hands on social security systems'."
Further, "'If TISA were to go into effect, regulation of the financial industry would be effectively prohibited'." One example cited is that "TISA would prevent the use of capital controls in the future." As Nelson explains, the use of capital controls - measures such as transaction taxes, other limits, or outright prohibitions that governments can use to regulate flows from capital markets into and out of the country's capital account - was a large part of Iceland's recovery from 2008's global financial crisis, including paying off its IMF debt by December 2015.
But perhaps the most draconian aspect of TISA is that it would lock in current levels of privatization in each country. If districts with privatized services (such as water, electricity, waste management, and transit systems) wish to return those services to public operation, as many communities are currently doing, the TISA will not allow it.
Trump said during his campaign that he wanted to secure more favorable terms for the United States in NAFTA. Indeed, his official trade "vision" is to "Negotiate fair trade deals that create American jobs, increase American wages, and reduce America's trade deficit." Knowing a little more about the "backup" TISA and the potential of trade deals to benefit elites, and with at least six of Trump's top advisers and Cabinet picks tied to Goldman Sachs, it remains to be seen whether his trade negotiations will be truly in
the public interest.
For Immediate Release
Editor, Watershed Sentinel
PO Box 1270, Comox BC V9M 7Z8
People Powered Media!
What People are Saying:
“Provocative, profound, challenging and suffused with perceptive clarity, Beyond Banksters: Resisting the New Feudalism will doubtless elicit joy from those who agree and rage from those who don’t – precisely what we expect from this gadfly extraordinaire.”
—Stephen Hume, author, Vancouver Sun columnist
“A powerful and chilling investigation into an emerging global oligarchy of banks and corporations. Acutely insightful, Beyond Banksters digs deep into the nature of this new order and its repressive and impoverishing effects, while also revealing possibilities for resistance and change. Written with wit and clarity, Beyond Banksters is not only informative but a pleasure to read.”
—Joel Bakan, Professor of Law, University of British Columbia, author of The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power
“Read it and then get your Member of Parliament to read it.”
—Duncan Cameron, Centre for Global Political Economy, Simon Fraser University
“One of the book’s strengths is the depth of knowledge and insight that Nelson marshals to describe the TPP, CETA and the lesser-known Trade in Services Agreement (TISA). While lowering trade barriers are part of these deals, their larger impact will likely be to tie the hands of government by, for example, preventing a reinstatement of the Glass Steagall Act, permanently legalizing trade in financially risky (even suspect) products, and challenging the legitimacy of public banks along with the public interest mandate of Crown corporations.”
—Heather Menzies, “Books for Change,” CCPA Monitor
“This review, although rather longer than usual, should not be considered a substitute for reading the entire contents of the book, which contains a plethora of salient facts, figures, and analysis. I don’t often refer to a book as an urgently “must-read,” but this one definitely fits that description.”
—Ed Finn, “Book Review: Beyond Banksters,” theindependent.ca
“This well researched book sheds new light on what is really going on in the financial world, and anyone who cares about Canada would be well advised to read it.”
—Hon. Paul Hellyer, former Minister of National Defence
“Always cutting edge, writer Joyce Nelson has penned a chilling dissection of the hidden-in-plain-view takeover of Canada by a global economic elite and their Banksters. The tightening noose of foreign economic domination that serves the billionaire class is choking off Canada’s very sovereignty. Ms. Nelson brilliantly exposes this crisis in a wake-up call that reads like a spy thriller. Unfortunately, this is not fiction but reality, the sober, blunt truth that politicians and the mainstream media spin and hide. If you care about your economic future, read this book and act.”
—John Stauber, author, Toxic Sludge Is Good For You and Weapons of Mass Deception
“This is a most unusual book for political junkies. It makes no attempt to settle scores or slant the historical perspective. I have the impression that Joyce Nelson has looked at the unfolding scene with a bewilderment that suits a keen, inquiring mind rather than that of a judge.”
—Rafe Mair, “Book Review: Beyond Banksters – Resisting the New Feudalism” commonsensecanadian.ca
“For those with an interest in knowing more on the cost of government debt in Canada, please pick up a copy of Beyond Banksters: Resisting the New Feudalism by Joyce Nelson. It is a little gem and you would do yourself a service by a reading. It also should be in all Canadian libraries, so badger your local library to stock a few copies.”
—Erik Anderson, former Transport Canada economist
“Read this book, and then help put a stop to the ongoing rip-off. Your children and grandchildren will thank you.”
—Anne Cameron, author of Dreamspeaker and Daughters of Copper Woman
Heather Menzies, “For those who love this planet, challenges and responses” CCPA Monitor (pdf)
[online, excerpted: “Books For Change“]
Ed Finn, “Book Review: Beyond Banksters,” theindependent.ca
[…and the cole’s notes: Brent Patterson, “Ed Finn Reviews Beyond Banksters by Joyce Nelson” canadians.org]
Rafe Mair, “Book Review: Beyond Banksters – Resisting the New Feudalism” commonsensecanadian.ca