Water and Trade

Water as International Resource

"Now, as the two citizens' organizations note, by NAFTA's provisions, water becomes a commercial good as soon as it becomes - even for a single time - the object of a financial transaction between two parties from different countries. After that, no government will ever be able to regulate it again without that becoming a barrier to free trade. For the last few years, several legal scholars have confirmed that Canadian governments will lose their jurisdiction over the management of their water in favor of companies' priority rights to exploit them."

Le Devoir
26 April 2007

GATS Resources

www.gatswatch.org- Undoubtedly one of the top, if not the best resource on the web on GATS. The site has a database containing various articles explaining the origin of GATS, its true objective in what it calls “progressive liberalization”, and its threat to democracy as well as basic water rights.

What is GATS?

GATS Primer
Before establishing the connection between GATS and water, it is critical to get a sense of exactly what GATS is and the impact it has on developing nations, big business, and most importantly, YOU. This primer discusses the content of GATS, a brief history of the WTO guide tells you what you can do to help.

The Alliance for Democracy’s Guide on GATS
This GATS Handbook is concise yet comprehensive and gives you a very good idea of the GATS framework, provisions, impact, and what is often referred to as “the built-in agenda.”

Fact Vs. Fiction: What the WTO says and what it REALLY means
This contains a series of articles and web pages devoted to debunking the WTO Secretariat’s paper (released as a direct result of mass protests to GATS and its system in general) titled GATS- Fact and Fiction. The third website from the top down, “A Civil Society Response to the WTO’s Publication” provides a very detailed comparison between the WTO’s publication and the many facts they failed to include.

GATS and Local Communities
With the increase of privatization and multi-national corporations, the role of local government in small communities will be nearly inconsequential as a result of GATS. Because of this, basic public services are being threatened, for many services that were once regarded as a basic human right has turned into a profit-making venture.

GATS and Water

GATS, Water, and the Environment
A very comprehensive and detailed report on the exact impact of GATS on water sources. This report examines the water laws in countries affected by GATS, a la India, Brazil, Australia, as well as the proposed legislation in countries under the EU. It also thoroughly examines the link between water ownership, allocation, regulations, and its connection to GATS. It also looks at the environmental and sustainability impact of GATS in terms of its control of domestic water regulations over areas under its control.

GATS and Water
This highly informative article by Zagema from the Friends of the Earth Netherlands concerns the privatization of water in connection to GATS, and what that means for the future of water supplies in local communities. As Zagema says,…some big transnational corporations have now given a different meaning to the war over water.”Article from Friends of the Earth Netherlands.

Stealing our Water: Implications of GATS on Water
This press release from Friends of the Earth, along with a detailed description of GATS and its connection to water truly highlights the deep implications behind GATS, privatization, and the question of control rights. It asks the question of who will end up paying the bill on the long run (the people), and ultimately, who will profit (big business). Addressing issues of environmental protection, as well as the language of GATS and its loopholes, this page paints a great picture of the truth behind the deceiving WTO and GATS.

GATS and Water: The Threat of Services Negotiations at the WTO
“This briefing examines the challenges raised by GATS in the context of the services negotiations currently taking place at the WTO. It looks in particular at the water sector, which has been one of the most contentious aspects of the GATS liberalisation programme. Drawing on new research conducted by Save the Children UK in the Philippines and Colombia, as well as other sources, the briefing exposes some of the inherent problems of water liberalisation in developing countries.”

Why Does the WTO Want my Water?
This Common Dreams article by Lori Wallach explores the real intentions of the GATS agreement and the WTO--- to benefit big business and weaken the power of local governments while severely affecting water controls and prices. As Wallach states, “think of GATS as a Trojan Horse - appealingly dubbed a "trade agreement" - which in reality contains a massive attack on the most basic functions of local and state government.”

Water Almost Out of GATS?
In March of 2006 the European Commission announced that water would not be a part of GATS. However, it still remains unclear whether the liberalization of “water for human use” is completely off the tables for the bilateral GATS negotiation. This Corporate Europe briefing discusses the successes of the anti-GATS campaign and the work of civic activists in keeping water out of GATS. It claims, “The exemption of water from new plurilateral GATS requests shows that the global campaign against the EU’s push for the privatisation of water services is starting to have an impact. But the battle is not yet won.”

Water and the GATS: Exploring their Impact on Local Level Partnerships
“This BPD paper seeks to analyze the GATS’ potential effects at the local level for both customers and managers of municipal water utilities. After a general overview of the GATS and its relation to water, it reviews the likely impact of the GATS on the ‘regulatory space’ left to the State in a partnership with a non-state entity.” The bibliography for this also contains some great resources on this and other similar issues.

Debt, GATS, and the Privatization of Water
This report discusses the impact of water privatization and GATS, specifically in relation to the Philippine experience. “Encroaching into sovereign borders and compelling national governments to withdraw from public welfare commitments; of pressuring national governments to sweeten local markets to draw in private investors; of according more transnational corporations as much rights as citizens in terms of investments and the exploitation of natural resources…” is what GATS is guilty of, it claims.

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