- 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
The globalization of trade and investment flows has been paralleled by the emergence of Codes of Conduct. Although the first corporate code of conduct was created by the International Chamber of Commerce in 1949, the 1990s witnessed a plethora of voluntary codes and corporate social responsibility guidelines.
This 2005 report describes efforts by the US sugar
industry to influence US policy on Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) in the last 5-10 years, including
tracking money spent on lobbying, identifying and summarizing papers and studies by the industry
to support its position, and providing a description of the industry’s connections to policymakers.
Sunkist has long urged the United States government to undertake an FTA with Korea to reduce its tariffs on US citrus. Mike Wootton, Sunkist senior vice president of corporate relations, was in Seoul, in constant consultations with US negotiators, during the final two-week session as citrus issues were tabled.
Past EU bilateral and regional agreements have been strongly influenced by political concerns. The new generation of FTAs must be based on economic criteria: where the EU’s current and future markets lie.
Vice President Dick Cheney on Wednesday urged the nation’s manufacturers to lobby Congress in what he said would be a difficult battle to extend President Bush’s special trade authority.
US business groups began a campaign on Monday to persuade a skeptical Democratic-led Congress to approve at least a short-term extension of White House trade promotion authority to finish world trade talks.
Business groups prepare to fight for US approval of free-trade agreements with the Americas
Fujio Mitarai, the Nippon Keidanren chairman who leads a powerful business mission to Australia at the weekend, belongs to the Japanese establishment’s inner elite. His position is often described as "prime minister of business".
Business Roundtable and the Nippon Keidanren believe that a United States-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) holds tremendous potential for the US, Japanese, and world economies, and urge their governments to begin discussion toward a framework for negotiation of such an agreement as soon as possible.
US manufacturers are stepping up lobbying efforts in Washington over imperilled trade deals they see as vital to growth next year.