Bilateral free trade agreements (FTAs) are made between two countries. Throughout the world, many governments have signed, are negotiating, or contemplating new bilateral free trade and investment agreements.
But these agreements must be seen in a global context as stepping stones towards full integration into a global free market economy. They are another way to ensure that governments implement the liberalisation, privatization and deregulation measures of the corporate globalisation agenda.
They are based on assumptions that free trade and the removal of regulations on investment will lead to economic growth, the reduction of poverty, increased living standards and employment opportunities.
There is ample evidence to show that on the contrary, these kinds of agreements only allow transnational corporations (TNCs) more freedom to exploit workers and to shape the national and global economy to suit their interests.
Like other free trade and investment agreements, they work towards removing all restrictions on business.
These binding international agreements severely constrain future governments in their policy options and help to lock in existing economic reforms which may have been imposed by the IMF, World Bank or Asian Development Bank, or pursued by national governments of their own volition. Like other free trade and investment agreements, they work towards removing all restrictions on business.
Some bilateral trade agreements deal with a narrow range of traded goods, such as the US-Cambodia bilateral textile trade agreement which was extended in January 2002 for a further three years.
In December 1998 India and Sri Lanka signed a free trade agreement, with India agreeing to a phase out of tariffs on a wide range of Sri Lankan goods within 3 years, while Sri Lanka agreed to remove tariffs on Indian goods over eight years.
One of its stated objectives was to contribute, by the removal of barriers to bilateral trade “to the harmonious development and expansion of world trade”.
Other FTAs, such as those being negotiated by the USA, are much more comprehensive and cover other issues including services and investment. These agreements usually take existing WTO agreements as their benchmark. They often strive to go further than what is set out in the WTO rules.
last update: May 2012
Anti-TTIP protests take place across the UK | 1-Sep-2014
TTIP and the Scottish referendum | 28-Aug-2014
Plundering the planet: Rigged corporate “free trade partnerships” and “climate change agreements” | 27-Aug-2014
The corporate free trade project reloaded | 27-Aug-2014
Guatemala: Marcha en contra de la “ley Monsanto” | 26-Aug-2014
TULF on TTIP | 23-Aug-2014
Position du ROPPA sur la signature des APE | 13-Aug-2014
AFTINET on ISDS | 13-Aug-2014
Website reveals how US could rewrite Australian medicine, media content and data storage laws through Trans-Pacific trade deal (TPP) | 13-Aug-2014
New World Trade Order? Fighting TPP and TTIP/TAFTA | 8-Aug-2014
An urgent challenge for the BDS movement | 5-Aug-2014
TTIP: battle of the choirs | 4-Aug-2014
Obama’s TPP: Taking neo-liberalism to a new level | 1-Aug-2014
STOP-APE : un appel aux organisations de la société civile et aux élus, en Europe et en Afrique | 1-Aug-2014
Declaración de la 16° Cumbre Social del Mercado Común del Sur (Mercosur) “Articulando luchas, cultivando resistencias” | 30-Jul-2014