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What’s at Stake in Global Trade Debates on Water?

  • European water companies target the United States as an important market. European multinationals dominate the private water services market, with over $25 billion per year in revenue.
  • U.S. municipal services represent a $82 billion market.  Government spending to construct and upgrade drinking water and sewage infrastructure is estimated to cost between $500 billion and $1 trillion over the next 20 years.
  • Most U.S. drinking water systems are in public hands. Municipal systems serving serve 85% of the U.S. population. European companies want access to U.S. markets for supply and water treatment services.

This section looks at water as a good and a service; describes important investment disputes involving water; and surveys state/local action to safeguard public water. 

Water as a product
Once water enters the 'stream of commerce', important trade rules apply.
Investment disputes involving water
Clashes over control of water has been a critical issue in several high-profile cases--including a landmark NAFTA decision.
Water services
GATS commitments can apply to water supply and wastewater treatment.
Public Leadership
States are asserting their right to regulate water in the public interest, and asking for limits on new trade commitments in water.

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