Business Lobbying for a Financial Services Agreement
The 1997 Financial Services Agreement (FSA) was finalized with the help of various business lobby groups such as CSI’s Financial Services Group and others. The World Economic Forum (WEF) also claims that it ‘made a contribution to the process and negotiation of financial services liberalization, through private meetings among key players’ in 1996 and 1997. The WEF Davos meeting in early 1997 came up with a statement of Objectives for Financial Services Negotiations, which was ‘in a sense, a ‘bill of rights’ for world financial services trade in the 21st Century’.
Business lobbyists turned up in force at the final negotiating meeting in Geneva at the end of 1997. Edmund Andrews, in The New York Times, observed:
U.S. companies were a conspicuous presence in and around the negotiations here in Geneva. Citibank, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch and numerous insurance companies -- particularly the American International Group and Aetna -- established command posts at the President Wilson hotel, about a half-mile from the headquarters of the World Trade Organization.
Similarly, Ragahvan claims that the negotiations ‘bordered on a farce… as messages went back and forth from Geneva to Washington, and according to reports, between the US Treasury and the American International Group (AIG) and its backers in the US Congress’. The WTO ‘Secretariat and its leadership, instead of functioning on behalf of all the membership in a multilateral negotiating process, was tacitly helping the US to bully and face-down one or two countries, who were not ready to meet its demands.’