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PSI meets UNCTAD Secretary-General to discuss public services, trade and development

21 July 2014
PSI meets UNCTAD Secretary-General
PSI recently met with Dr Mukhisa Kituyi, Secretary-General of the United Nations Committee on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) to discuss the role public services play in development and how trade agreements can undermine this.

PSI’s director for Policy and Governance, Daniel Bertossa, outlined public sector workers concerns about the way trade agreements are promoting privatisation. He presented PSI’s ground-breaking research TISA vs Public Services to Mr Kituyi and explained the critical role that quality public services play in economic development, fighting inequality and achieving social justice.

Bertossa also outline the grave concerns we have with trade agreements that restrict governments’ ability to regulate in the public interest. Agreements such as the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA), Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) all permanently tie governments' hands in critical policy areas.   

"Public services are dynamic in responding to social, political and technological changes and must not be put in ‘permanent shackles’ by trade agreements harming the provision of vital public services such as health, education, water and waste," he said.

Dr Kituyi highlighted that trade was a means to development but not an end in itself and expressed concern about rising inequality as a development issue. He acknowledged the important role of the public sector in provision of vital services such as water and health in the developing world.

The meeting was very positive and PSI hopes it will form the basis of future collaboration between UNCTAD and PSI.

Dr Kituyi was previously Kenya's Minister of Trade and Industry from 2002 to 2007 and was the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States. Immediately prior to becoming Secretary-General, Dr. Kituyi was Chief Executive of the Kenya Institute of Governance, based in Nairobi.

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