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Trade and investments

Trade and investment liberalisation are considered by many to be important instruments of development policy. In practice, global trade and investment regimes focus on securing profits for corporations and foreign investors above all else. Regulations which protect and benefit citizens, such as union rights, consumer and environmental protection, and financial regulation are described as barriers to investment and growth, rather than sound social policy. Many trade and investment agreements include investment protection and arbitration clauses that allow corporations to sue governments for policies that may adversely affect profits. A health warning on cigarettes, a ban on open-pit mining, and a plan to phase-out coal are but a few real examples of social policies that sparked the threat of corporate legal action. Transparency and democracy around trade and investment decisions is woefully lacking. Negotiations are conducted behind closed doors. Investment disputes are handled by private tribunals, rather than regular courts. SOMO examines a wide variety of trade and investment mechanisms, analysing their impact on society and sustainable development goals. We also study their implications for financial and other regulatory frameworks. We advocate for modern trade and investment policies that contribute simultaneously to social justice, sustainability, and just economic development. We stimulate political debate around planned trade agreements – like TTIP, CETA and TISA – that conflict with these goals.

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