TiSA: Frequently asked questions

Why is Australia negotiating the TiSA?

Services make up 70 per cent of Australia’s economy and over 21 per cent of two-way trade.  Services also account for three of Australia’s top five ‘globally significant industries’.  Given the potential benefits for the Australian economy of expanded growth in global services trade, it makes sense for Australia to actively participate in negotiations on trade in services. 

Australia’s objective in the negotiations is to leverage Australia’s already open markets to secure access for Australian service suppliers overseas. Australia is pursuing improved access and conditions for Australian business in areas of export strength including financial services, professional services, education services, telecommunications and electronic commerce.  Australia is also seeking stronger commitments in areas where Australian business are developing a strong export focus, such as mining and energy services, construction and environmental services.

Is the TiSA just about services liberalisation? 

For Australia, and many other TiSA parties, the TiSA is about more than services liberalisation.  It is about generating momentum in a way that could jump start other multilateral trade negotiations.

In addition to setting a new standard for international services trade commitments, the TiSA negotiations also provide an opportunity to develop what has been referred to as ‘new and enhanced disciplines’.  That is, to set standards or improve trade rules to ensure the benefits to business are not undermined by overly burdensome regulatory barriers. 

Will the TiSA look like a traditional FTA?

Not exactly.  TiSA parties have agreed on a new scheduling approach.  Market access commitments, or commitments to allow entry of foreign service suppliers into the market, will be made on a positive list basis.  A positive list allows parties to choose the specific sectors where they will make commitments, as they do in the WTO negotiations. 

National treatment commitments, or commitments to treat foreign service suppliers the same as local suppliers once they enter the market, will be made on a negative list basis.  A negative list means that parties will commit to provide equal treatment in all sectors, except where they list a reservation.

The structure of the TiSA has been designed to build on the WTO General Agreement on Trade in Services while also incorporating elements from FTAs that can lead to a higher level of ambition. 

A more detailed explanation of the scheduling approach used in the TiSA

In addition, new and enhanced disciplines similar to chapters in FTAs will outline additional commitments that will apply to all parties. The negotiations currently include financial services; ICT services (including telecommunications and e-commerce); professional services; transport services; delivery services; energy services; temporary entry of business persons; government procurement; and new rules on domestic regulation to ensure regulatory settings do not operate as a barrier to trade in services.

What is included in Australia’s market access offer?

Australia’s offer includes commitments made in Australia’s existing FTAs with respect to non-discriminatory treatment of foreign service suppliers, locking in current levels of market openness and future liberalisation, subject to appropriate reservations. The quality of Australia’s offer puts Australia in a good position to encourage other TiSA parties to liberalise to a similar standard.

Is Australia making commitments on health or education?

Australia’s TiSA market access offer does not include commitments on health, public education, public utilities, social security or other public services.

How is Australia approaching 21st century issues in the TiSA, such as cross-border data flows?

Australia supports the inclusion of ‘21st century’ trade issues in the TiSA, such as cross-border data flows.  Providing certainty for businesses of all types about their ability to transfer data across borders is something that the TiSA is well placed to address.  It will be important to recognise the role of good regulatory practice to build consumer confidence in online transactions and increase participation in the digital economy.  In Australia’s view, appropriate privacy protections will facilitate the development of electronic commerce. 

Is Australia making commitments on audio-visual services?

Australia’s TiSA market access offer does not include commitments on audio-visual services. 

Is Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) part of the TiSA negotiations?

There have been no proposals by any TiSA party to include ISDS in the TiSA.

Have there been public consultations on the TiSA?

Australian positions in the negotiations are informed by ongoing public consultations. Australia continues to welcome submissions on the TiSA, and where submissions have been received Australian negotiators are pursuing these objectives.

Last Updated: 21 October 2016