Global and local political conflicts have upended several pending trade-deal negotiations in recent weeks, derailing negotiations on two other agreements, a deal between Canada and Europe, along with the US-European Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. And the wild card of the Trump presidency could now upend a number of trade deals with the United States, though it’s uncertain which, if any, pending agreements President-elect Trump would scrap. But even before the US election, both inside and outside the US, prospects for the much larger Trans Pacific Partnership, which covers North America and the Pacific Rim, were dimming.
Advocates are now focusing on yet another controversial trade deal being formulated in secretive ministerial talks: the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) aims to marketize public services in ways that may reshape environmental policies.
Critics of the deal say TiSA threatens to impose sweeping deregulatory measures that would make it harder for signatory nations to meet the goals established in the COP21 climate treaty, smearing the basic gears of democratic governance with the fossil-fuel industry’s corporate agenda. According to an analysis of draft documents by Public Services International (PSI), a global civil-service union federation, the agreement, which would cover 23 WTO members including big polluters including the US, the EU, Canada, and Australia, might upend core provisions of the COP21 climate treaty by thwarting regulators’ ability to set industrial and environmental standards to prioritize renewables over fossil-fuel energy sources.
The clash between trade and climate agendas will only intensify as the Paris climate treaty, which mandates significant reductions for commercially based carbon emissions, enters into force this month. (Though Trump generally opposes the climate treaty and other carbon regulations and has denounced free trade overall, his campaign was mum on TiSA specifically, and the United States remains within the pending agreement for now.)
For TiSA signatories, PSI points out, the deal would require regulations to be “technologically neutral,” treating every energy source basically equally for the purposes of international trade. This would run counter to the project of collaboratively reducing global carbon emissions.