Political and Media Access
A key role which the business coalitions play in the ongoing negotiations is to provide access to key politicians and bureaucrats involved in the negotiations. Members of the Coalition of Service Industries (CSI) are assured that their membership ‘provides a cost-effective, leveraged way to ensure’ that their interests are represented and their voices heard in all the important places. For fees of up to $25,000 per year (2003) they are promised access to key people in US Congress, US government agencies, international organizations such as the WTO, and foreign governments including the European Commission. They are promised that they will be able to ‘help shape US Government positions on key issues of concern through frequent interaction with US Government officials’ and expand their business opportunities abroad by taking part in ‘missions to key foreign markets’ such as China and India.
CSI, through its Research and Education Foundation, runs a World Services Congress to bring together business people, government officials and academics from around the world in support of liberalization of trade in services. In addition, CSI runs conferences in the US in conjunction with the US Department of Commerce to facilitate business-government dialogue with the aim of enabling its members to make recommendations to US negotiators with respect to shaping the US negotiating agenda and expanding US trade objectives. Such conferences attract the highest level bureaucrats and officials including the WTO Director General designate and the Deputy USTR in 2002.
The CSI also has good relations with the media: ‘One of the things that distinguish the American private sector from the rest of the world is its relationship to the media, which is very good.’ It helps that various media organizations, like Reuters, are members and have their own interest in free trade in services. Reuters is also a member of the LOTIS committee.