Corporate interests

Behind every free trade and investment agreement lies a set of corporate interests. Just as they have greatly influenced the shape, scope and contents of World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements, so too are transnational corporations (TNCs), sectoral industry coalitions and lobby groups mobilizing around specific bilateral trade and investment negotiations, to push even further than they were able to get at the WTO.

“Bilateral and regional FTAs …are formalized manifestations of where our respective private sectors have taken us…it is really business and government moving in tandem,” explained Susan Schwab, former US Trade Representative in 2006.

TNCs, whether acting individually or as part of industry coalitions such as the US Council on International Business (USCIB), the Emergency Committee for International Trade, the Coalition of Service Industries (US), BusinessEurope, the European Services Forum (EU) or Nippon Keidanren (Japan), are organized, aggressive and influential in their demands for specific FTAs. The comprehensiveness of most free trade and investment agreements means that there are many cross-cutting issues as well as separate chapters and provisions in these agreements which serve to shape policy regimes in the interests of TNCs.

last update: May 2012


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  • 3-Sep-2015 Just Style Trade agreements: EU grows bilateral and regional FTAs
    Free trade agreements (FTAs) between the European Union (EU) and its trading partners worldwide have mushroomed in recent years and more are in the pipeline.
  • 28-Aug-2015 Holding Redlich Australian food labelling laws: changes and complexities for foreign trade
    Changes to Australian food labelling laws provide consumers with an increased understanding of the origin of their food. The challenge Australia faces is to ensure compliance with foreign investment trade agreements.
  • 26-Aug-2015 Fortune How regional trade agreements can spark a fight over Feta cheese
    While the European Union and Canada agree that Feta cheese must come from Greece, the deal underscores the problems with regional trade deals not giving other countries a say.
  • 20-Aug-2015 Confidencial Otra ofensiva del neoliberalismo
    Si uno no se cansa de imaginar sobre lo que son capaces de hacer las transnacionales, se encontrará con la violación de los derechos sociales y políticos, lo que, como de costumbre en nuestros países, correría a cargo de los gobiernos que se ponen al servicio de las transnacionales.
  • 24-Jul-2015 Reuters Corporate lobbying expense jumps as US trade debate rages
    Washington lobbying by companies and groups involved in global trade boomed in the past nine months, records show, as Congress debated a landmark trade pact proposed by President Barack Obama, the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
  • 21-Jul-2015 Le Monde Le lobbying des milieux d’affaires sur le traité transatlantique dénoncé par des ONG
    Des négociations secrètes menées à huis clos dans le seul intérêt des multinationales : la sombre étiquette qui colle au projet de traité transatlantique entre l’Europe et les Etats-Unis ne devrait pas sortir blanchie du rapport publié mardi 14 juillet par les ONG Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) et SumOfUs.
  • 21-Jul-2015 The Parliament Magazine Time to challenge the influence of big business in EU policy making
    The EU’s well-oiled revolving doors are keeping corporate lobbying in the TTIP driving seat, argue Vicky Cann and David Lundy
  • 15-Jul-2015 Just Means How global trade agreements undermine sustainable business: The American Sustainable Business Council perspective
    The American Sustainable Business Council explains that the point of greatest concern in TPP, TTIP and especially the TiSA agreement is the proposal to allow corporations to sue governments in an international tribunal.
  • 14-Jul-2015 CEO TTIP: a corporate lobbying paradise
    Which businesses are pushing most for the proposed EU-US trade deal TTIP? Who’s influencing EU negotiators?
  • 14-Jul-2015 CEO TTIP: le paradis des lobbies industriels
    Quels sont les entreprises qui poussent le plus pour le traité commercial TTIP / TAFTA entre les États-Unis et l’UE?
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  • Eurochambres
    Eurochambres, a European business lobby group, webpage on FTAs
  • IFAC
    The Industry Functional Advisory Committees (IFACs) for Trade Policy Matters have a direct and important structural role in steering US trade policy. There are four IFACs guiding US trade deals on customs, standards, intellectual property rights and electronic commerce.
  • SOMO
    SOMO links the negotiations and rules on international trade and investment with the actual conduct of corporations within these rules and agreements.
  • USCIB on Regionalism vs Multilateralism
    US Council for International Business, April 2004