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WikiLeaks Publishes Secret International Trade Agreement 222

Posted by samzenpus
from the like-minds dept.
schwit1 (797399) writes "The text of a 19-page, international trade agreement being drafted in secret was published by WikiLeaks as the transparency group's editor commemorated his two-year anniversary confined to the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. Fifty countries around the globe have already signed on to the Trade in Service Agreement, or TISA, including the United States, Australia and the European Union. Despite vast international ties, however, details about the deal have been negotiated behind closed-doors and largely ignored by the press. In a statement published by the group alongside the leaked draft this week, WikiLeaks said "proponents of TISA aim to further deregulate global financial services markets," and have participated in "a significant anti-transparency maneuver" by working secretly on a deal that covers more than 68 percent of world trade in services, according to the Swiss National Center for Competence in Research.
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WikiLeaks Publishes Secret International Trade Agreement

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 22, 2014 @02:15PM (#47293951)

    So, this agreement is about "Financial Services". In the section called "Transparency", it says:

    "The Parties recognize that transparent regulations and policies governing the activities of financial service suppliers are important in facilitating their ability to gain access to and operate in each other’s market. Each Party commits to promote regulatory transparency in trade in financial services."

    But then the whole agreement is secret. Great transparency there! It's kind of difficult to take this crap seriously.

  • All treaties are negotiated in secret. Furthermore, at least in the US, no treaty is in effect until it is ratified by the Senate, at which point all the elements of the treaty will be public and heavily debated down to the last comma.

    It's great that Wikileaks is giving the world a heads-up view into what is being negotiated, but I don't understand why every Slashdot story about international treaties harps on "negotiated in secret" like that's unusual, or that a treaty can somehow take effect silently and invisibly.

  • by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @02:22PM (#47293979)

    When it comes to corporate ownership, the parties are really no different. Just ask, when did you last see any politician of significent position advocate for less restrictive copyright law, or criticise the high subsidies granted to the agricultural industry?

    There seems to be an informal agreement between the parties as to which issues are designated the 'subjects of debate' - ideally things which get the public's emotions running high, but don't actually have a significent impact on those in charge or corporate profits. Gay marriage, abortion, that sort of thing.

  • by king neckbeard (1801738) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @02:26PM (#47293995)
    Just because treaties often are negotiated in secret doesn't mean that they should be.
  • by Magnus Pym (237274) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @02:30PM (#47294007)

    You say that as if this is a good thing. Care to elaborate why it is a great idea why trade treaties (as opposed to defense & military) should be negotiated in secret? Seems to me (and many others who are experts on this subject matter) is that secrecy is a wonderful thing for the lobbyists and other corrupt bureaucrats and sucks for the people whom it would ultimately affect (i.e., all of us).

    As for it being debated on the senate floor... what a joke. By the time it gets to the senate, the issue has already been framed, and the range of acceptable options narrowly defined. The fact is that many of the ideas should never be allowed to even get that level of legitimacy.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 22, 2014 @02:35PM (#47294021)

    So, this agreement is about "Financial Services". In the section called "Transparency", it says:

    But then the whole agreement is secret. Great transparency there! It's kind of difficult to take this crap seriously.

    When they refer "transparency", they don't mean transparency to people like you and me. They mean transparency for government three letter agencies.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @02:46PM (#47294069)

    Heavily debated? Where have you been hiding in the last couple years? Such things are introduced into the house/senate at the most inappropriate time (at least if the plan is that someone reads the shit, like, say, just before the members go on vacation), are composed of 1000+ pages that nobody WANTS to read and are rushed through because "delay could be very disadvantageous for our country, and trying to delay it is harming the US interests" (or similar bull).

    Now add that the politician's owner informs him that he should better say "ay" should he get asked and it should be obvious how "public" the whole shit ever gets.

  • by ericloewe (2129490) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @02:57PM (#47294113)

    Why not? It would only create additional, unnecessary public anxiety about stuff that might never even see the paper.

    As long as the final version (release candidate would be a better expression here) is properly publically analysed (and, if needed, rewritten), there's no problem.

  • by Sarten-X (1102295) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @03:10PM (#47294155) Homepage

    Secret negotiation provides an easy way to have a candid discussion, without worrying about vague implications of precise wording that one's political opponents will quote out of context and turn into the next hot election issue.

    For example, in a negotiation, a diplomat can say "we don't need the unions to have disproportionate control over production costs", in reference to potentially giving unions control over tariffs. In public, that diplomat can then be quoted as saying "we don't need the unions", and he's lost a large number of supporting votes right there. If he's a Democrat, his career's over, because he didn't toe the party line giving unions full control over everything commercial.

    Right now, I'd wager there's even a few Slashdotters getting mad at me because I used their precious unions in an example. Such is the danger of public discussion.

    You're right, though, that Congress routinely fails to say "no", on the assumption that full and fair negotiations have already taken place. That's the big problem: there's never any push for politicians to do what's right rather than just reinforce the party.

  • Re:yep (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Mister Liberty (769145) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @03:11PM (#47294157)

    I am giving up my modeator opportunity on this just to call you a troll.
    Who's talking about surprise!?
    This is information coming into the open, that's what it is.

  • by Bing Tsher E (943915) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @03:22PM (#47294203) Journal

    If the agents involved in the negotiations are private individuals, fine. They are entitled to their privacy. If government agents are involved, they are engaged in the People's Business and we are all entitled to oversee what they're up to.

  • by jklovanc (1603149) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @03:29PM (#47294221)

    But then the whole agreement is secret.

    The whole agreement is secret right now because it is not even close to a final draft. When it get closer to final draft there may be more official releases. When it gets to final draft it will definitely be released so it can be voted on by the member countries. Keeping drafts a secret is not a big deal and is necessary in every complex agreement. Do you really think it would be effective for every draft to be gone over and commented on by every "expert" in the world? The group would spend all it's time fixing misunderstanding and misrepresentations. Wait for the final draft then we can pick it apart.

  • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @03:50PM (#47294295)

    The events of the last five or six years have proven that financial markets and institutions have been over regulated.

    Absolute BS. They haven't been over-regulated, they've been mis-regulated.

    The Federal government has been blatantly ignoring antitrust laws, for example, while illegally regulating things it has no business or authority to regulate. It has been a combination of under-regulating and over-regulating... adding up to mis-regulation (and often illegal regulation, for that matter... they don't have authority to ignore laws any more than they have to enforce nonexistent laws).

    For example, nobody disputes that Obama does not have unilateral authority, for example, to tell the EPA to impose vast new rules without the involvement of Congress. (Much less justified by EPA's "secret science".) Yet he's been doing it.

  • All treaties are negotiated in secret.

    Secret from the general populace: yes. Secret from large corporations and lobby groups: hell no.

    Furthermore, at least in the US, no treaty is in effect until it is ratified by the Senate, at which point all the elements of the treaty will be public and heavily debated down to the last comma.

    It's great that Wikileaks is giving the world a heads-up view into what is being negotiated, but I don't understand why every Slashdot story about international treaties harps on "negotiated in secret" like that's unusual, or that a treaty can somehow take effect silently and invisibly.

    I'm not sure whether you've ever tried influencing a non-binding agreement that was reached in diplomatic circles and which supposedly still needs to be ratified by politicians in public. I can tell you that by the time a completely negotiated deal ends up in a parliament, senate or council of ministers, there is an enormous amount of political pressure to approve it because of all of the efforts that went into negotiating that text. At that point, the negotiating parties have basically all said "yes, we agree with this and are willing to defend this text before our national politicians", and a very much used argument (that also carries a lot of weight) is then "we don't want to seem unreliable to our negotiation partners".

    Sure, they may sometimes make a little bit of fuss about small details to "demonstrate" they're not just rubberstamping it, but actually completely changing positions on a matter of substance almost never happens (unless there is a huge public outcry, or a very big business interest). And even if that happens, it means all those negotiations were largely for nothing, which could have been solved by having more transparency in the first place.

  • by whoever57 (658626) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @04:26PM (#47294427) Journal

    For example, in a negotiation, a diplomat can say "we don't need the unions to have disproportionate control over production costs", in reference to potentially giving unions control over tariffs

    But there is a huge difference between reporting the content of discussions between the parties and publishing early drafts of the proposed treaty.

  • "Some people somewhere are consensually doing something that offends my sensitive sensibilities, so it has to stop even though it's a private matter that I have no part in and no business sticking my nose into!"

    The behavior of corporations -- artificial persons created by state fiat -- is not a "private matter".

  • by sandbagger (654585) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @07:29PM (#47295065)

    Canada was openly ridiculed by the US for not deregulating its financial industry right up until the financial disaster. By an large, Canada escaped disaster that plagued the other G8 countries in the banking meltdown.

    So, we have recent proof that strict financial regulation works and yet they want to keep doubling down on deregulation?

  • by Luckyo (1726890) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @08:06PM (#47295205)

    Nationalise the bank to ensure that investors who allowed such thing to happen lose everything regardless. In other words, make those guilty of taking the risk shoulder the consequences.

    Then bail it out to save your taxpayers money.

    The problem with current methodology is that government effectively agreed to be a free guarantor for big banks risks. Which in turn caused the crisis because banks, knowing government and its money has their back took insane risks because the profits were equally insane if successful. And for a while, they held. Until risks were realised and the entire thing came down like a house of cards.

    The only way to normalise the system is to force those who take the risk shoulder the consequences. Otherwise, what we saw in 2007 was just the beginning of crises to come.

  • by Applehu Akbar (2968043) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @11:23PM (#47295843)

    Any treaty binding the businesses of two or more countries would have to be known to all concerned, surely.

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