The prominence of business coalitions in UK and the US in promoting free trade in services and creating business networks, global and regional, to augment their efforts, reflects the fact that these are the two largest exporters of services in the world.
Christopher Roberts, formerly UK Director-General of Trade Policy and chair of the Liberalisation of Trade in Services (LOTIS) committee, recognized that 'The greatest pressure for liberalising financial services comes, as one would expect, from the EU and US. The views of both reflect substantial input from the private sector.'
Service industry coalitions are supported in their efforts to gain unrestricted access to global markets by think tanks and organizations such as the OECD. For example, in 1999 the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), the Brookings Institution, the Center for Business and Government of Harvard University and the Coalition of Service Industry's Education and Research Foundation organized a conference on the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) in Washington D.C. The papers given at the conference were published as a book, and funding came from the CSI Foundation, the European Commission, the Mark Twain Institute (founded by Harry Freeman of American Express), and government bodies in Canada, France and Japan.
According to the European Commission:
The GATS is not just something that exists between Governments. It is first and foremost an instrument for the benefit of business, and not only for business in general, but for individual services companies wishing to export services or to invest and operate abroad.
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), also referred to as a TransAtlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA), is a free trade agreement being negotiated since July 2013 between Europe and the USA. One of its aims is to open up public services in Europe to privatisation and ownership by foreign companies and the European Commission has indicated its willingness to do this for all services except "security-related services such as the judiciary, border policing or air traffic control".
Rather than countries offering particular services for privatisation and foreign ownership, as the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) requires (see Offers and Requests), it is being proposed that as part of TTIP all services will be opened up unless explicitly excluded — a negative list approach.
Any reversals of privatisations will be subject to lawsuits by corporations under the Investor State Dispute Settlement provisions of free trade agreements such as the TTIP.
When the people of Slovakia voted in a leftist government in 2006 as a response to the unpopular privatization of health care, one of its first moves was to restrict the powers of private insurance firms to extract profits from the public health system. In retaliation, a number of health insurance companies sued the Slovak government for damages, with Dutch firm Achmea eventually seizing €29.5 million in public assets by way of 'compensation'.