Trade and Investment

Trade and Investment

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The Friends of the Earth trade campaign draws attention to the trade and investment rules which threaten environmental protection, and works to advance policies which instead promote sustainable development, worker and human rights, and corporate accountability. Current international trade and investment rules embodied in the World Trade Organization and in regional and bilateral trade agreements create a global economic system biased in favor of multinational corporations at the expense of citizens’ rights to regulate and set limits on the exploitation and consumption of the world’s resources.   However, the current state of international trade policy is unsettled – due largely to the successes of non-governmental organizations in helping slow the process of negotiations at the World Trade Organization (WTO) and in bilateral free trade agreements. At the WTO, negotiations have essentially stalled due to continuing deep divisions over agriculture, non-agricultural sectors, and service sectors. In the bilateral trade context, the United States has failed to succeed in negotiating a number of attempted agreements, such as those with Thailand, Malaysia, and Southern African countries.  Other agreements, such as those with South Korea and Colombia, are languishing because of congressional opposition.   Promisingly, President Barack Obama and many incoming Members of Congress have voiced strong criticism of the current free trade model for its role in causing significant social, economic and environmental harm—representing a substantial change in policy from the unfettered free trade model so forcefully advocated by the previous administration. With Obama’s campaign promises on trade and the strong progressive trade platforms of many winning Congressional candidates, the coming year will be a critical time to press for change in U.S. trade policy. We are entering a key period in which to hold the new leadership accountable to campaign and platform statements criticizing current U.S. bilateral and regional free trade agreements, including the North America Free Trade Agreement and the Central American Free Trade Agreement, and promising to make changes in future trade agreements.