WikiLeaks wants to expose the free trade negotiations with the free trade of information
By Maurice H. Alexander
By the end of this year or soon after, U.S. President Obama and a score of other world leaders hope to have three massive trade agreements finalized and agreed to by their respective representative bodies. These trade agreements are the Trade in Services Agreement, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, and the now much-discussed Trans-Pacific Partnership.
These treaties aim at liberalizing global trade and services through the reduction of regulations and national barriers across a total of 30 countries. The impact will greatly overshadow that of NAFTA.
Yet what these treaties also share in common is that their texts have been kept highly secret. In some cases congressional members seeking to view an agreement must do so only in a soundproofed room where note-taking and cell phone use is banned. Such secrecy for such wide-reaching agreements has led whistle-blowing organization WikiLeaks to change its tactics. For the first time, WikiLeaks has offered a cash reward of $100,000 for the release of a classified document. Its target is the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which is seen as one of the largest trade deals in American history.
In the past, WikiLeaks has only facilitated insider leaks by disseminating them online, but it is now actively pursuing openness and transparency with this reward for whistleblowers. If governments won’t engage in a democratic discussion of binding international trade agreements that will have a profound effect on world trade and service, Wikileaks will bring the discussion to them. The website has offered to buy the documents, and in effect, the text of the next major free trade agreement has come up for trade itself.
The discussion about free trade has become about the free trade of information. Wikileaks wants the public to have a say in the negotiations of these three secret and massive trade agreements.
The Trade in Services Agreement
Of the three, the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) affects the most countries. It is currently under negotiation between economic leaders from the United States and the European Union as well as a collection of 22 other states that include Australia, Canada, Israel, Mexico, Pakistan, and Turkey. The purview of the treaty is the worldwide liberalization of the trade of services. This treaty covers over 70 percent of the global services economy, ranging across healthcare, banking, insurance, finance, e-commerce, telecom, postal services, professional services, delivery services, air traffic, and maritime trade, among others.
While talks over TiSA have been ongoing since 2012, it was low on the public radar until …
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