- Key issues
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
photo: Mehr Demokratie e.V.
A secret deal that saw Brussels blamed for ‘forcing’ Britain to take in 12,000 Indian workers – despite high unemployment – was supported by a lobbying push from British financial services companies.
The US National Association of Manufacturers is asking the Obama administration to give Ecuador three months to meet the requirements and standards under the US-Ecuador bilateral investment treaty or be removed from the Andean Trade Preference Act.
Devry Boughner sits under a portrait of Ho Chi Minh in the home of Vietnam’s ambassador to the United States and pitches the virtues of open markets to a communist diplomat.
An ad hoc coalition of 40 food and agricultural organizations led by the National Pork Producers Council in a letter sent yesterday to the Obama administration and Congress expressed concern that a proposed free trade agreement between the United States and the European Union might fall short of long-established US objectives for trade pacts.
The 11th round of Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement negotiations between Australia, the US, New Zealand, Malaysia and four other countries starts in Melbourne on March 1. Civil society groups from those countries are in Melbourne to contest corporate influence and debate the issues.
The Business Advisory Council of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is focused on taking further steps towards realizing the goal of an integrated Asia Pacific economy, and on liberalizing and facilitating trade and investment, leading ultimately to a Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP).
Following former trade minister Kim Hyun-jong, another former diplomat who played a key role in negotiations over the Korea-US Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) has gone to work for Samsung. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MOFAT) stated on Sunday that 45-year-old Kim Won-gyeong, an economic adviser at the Korean Embassy to the United States, had submitted his resignation ahead of the regular February reshuffle. Though it has been reported that Kim will go to work as a director for Samsung Electronics America, a Samsung Electronics official said that talks were still in progress and nothing had been confirmed.
A proposal by President Barack Obama to reorganize US trade agencies would force together departments that have different missions, something industry groups say may diminish effectiveness.
"We need to negotiate more bilateral investment treaties. … India and China should be high on that list," said Thomas Donohue, president and CEO of the US Chamber of Commerce
Fair trade is increasingly becoming a marketing strategy where the farmers’ poverty is a necessary ingredient to make consumers feel good about themselves