bilaterals.org logo
bilaterals.org logo

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


APEC business leaders push Asia-Pac FTA
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).
Conglomerates poaching experienced trade negotiators
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.
Obama’s agency revamp may diminish US Trade Representative
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.
Group calls for investment treaty with China
"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 proving anything but in $6B market
Fair trade is increasingly becoming a marketing strategy where the farmers’ poverty is a necessary ingredient to make consumers feel good about themselves
Business leaders urge US, EU consider trade pact
The private sector Transatlantic Business Dialogue wants Obama and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso to agree when the two leaders meet on Monday to explore the idea of negotiating a "TransAtlantic Economic and Trade Pact."
Corporations occupy fair trade
Corporations move in to further occupy the fair trade network
Top U.S. companies urge new Internet trade rules
Google, Microsoft , Citigroup , IBM , GE and other top-tier American companies on Thursday urged the United States to fight for trade rules that protect the free flow of information over the Internet.
Trade agreements make lobbyists millions
US Justice Department records show that Panama’s, Korea’s and Colombia’s Washington embassies, foreign ministries, and trade agencies forked over at least $15 million for lobbying, legal, and PR expenses since the beginning of 2006 to help push for the agreements, The Hill reports.
Kia closely watching free-trade debate
Kia spent $150,000 in the first quarter of this year to lobby members of the US House and Senate on matters that included the Korea-US free-trade agreement, according to federal lobbying records.