Serving Whose Interests? explores the political economy of trade in
services agreements from a critical legal perspective. The
controversy surrounding the General Agreement on Trade in Services
(GATS) and its variants at the regional and bilateral levels can,
it is argued, be seen as a clash between two paradigms. For most of
the twentieth century, under welfare states and state socialism,
these services were viewed from a local and national perspective as
embodying a mix of economic, social and cultural dimensions and
were managed by the state through strong regulation and direct
ownership and delivery. That socially based and state-centred
approach has been progressively displaced since the 1980s through
neoliberal policies of privatisation, deregulation and
liberalisation, the transnationalisation of finance and production,
and new technologies. The internationalisation of services markets
has thus become a driver of contemporary capitalism. The explicit
aim of `trade in services' agreements is to lock in national
regulations and policies that enhance the profitability of
international services markets. They are exclusively the tools of
contemporary global capitalism, yet are represented as the new
pathway for development. It is argued here, however, that there is
a fundamental contradiction between the global market model and the
intrinsically social nature of services, whether they are social
services like education, media and midwifery, or inputs to
capitalist production such as finance, transport, energy, and
telecommunications. This book examines and draws out these tensions
and contradictions through a combination of theoretical analysis
and a series of truly global case studies that include the market
in internet gambling, education, pensions, electricity
privatisation, supermarkets, tourism, oil, culture, temporary
migrants, private finance initiatives and call centres. The product
of extensive research by an internationally renowned expert in the
area, yet written in an accessible manner, Serving Whose Interests?
combines a technical and political analysis that will be of
interest to informed trade specialists, academics and students
working in the areas of international trade and international trade
law, and others with interests in the organisation and regulation
of the global economy.
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