In March, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) - the chair of the trade subcommittee of the Senate Finance Committee - became one of the first members of Congress to call the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) to account for its inclusion of financial services deregulation-promoting provisions in WTO agreements and various U.S. trade deals. These terms were included at the behest of lobbying of big Wall Street banks, and sharply limit the kinds of financial regulations countries can enact without facing WTO challenges and other claims for compensation.
Unfortunately, USTR continued to dodge these issues in their written response to Wyden's question, as we note in this brand spanking new memo that goes through USTR's response point by point.
In the meantime, financial interests have stepped up their accusations that smart regulations violate WTO commitments. Just last week, the European Union attacked U.S. regulations meant to check the behavior of offshore insurance firms, while a pro-WTO think-tank alleged that German efforts to rein in risky speculation could also run afoul of the country's GATS commitments. This comes shortly after a European Commission paper stated that taxes on Wall Street to help Main Street could violate the WTO, and after years of Panama alleging that anti-tax haven measures could violate the WTO.
If you're interested in putting economic stability and job creation ahead of deregulation-promoting trade deals, you could do a lot worse than to ask your member of Congress to get on the bipartisan TRADE Act, which specifically addresses these questions, and which is supported by a majority of House Democrats, committee chairs and subcommittee chairs, across diverse caucuses in Congress.