The WTO and US and European officials all lavished praise on the Financial Services Agreement (FSA) when it was made: ‘Representatives of US financial service industries rushed into the WTO lobby to distribute effusive statements of support to the pact and how it would enable them to serve consumers globally, but not concealing their glee that they would now be able to operate and gain in many developing country markets.’
Despite the public elation, corporations regarded the agreement as just a beginning. Most countries committed themselves to little more than locking in their existing levels of market opening.
However, even this is significant given that it meant that no reversal or government controls can be imposed in the future even if there is democratic decision to do so. This is so undemocratic that in some nations such agreements are thought to be unconstitutional. The Canadian constitution, for example, states: ‘Every Act shall be so construed as to reserve to Parliament the power of repealing or amending it, and of revoking, restricting or modifying any power, privilege or advantage thereby vested in or granted to any person’.
Despite this corporate victory over democracy, Banker Andrew Buxton complained: ‘There are still countries, such as India, where hardly any progress was made in the 1997 agreement and where more pressure is needed … we cannot allow existing members of the WTO to opt out completely.’
Financial corporations sought to gain further commitments following the agreement including commitments to: