Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch
- District of Columbia
Global Trade Watch (GTW) is a division of Public Citizen, the national, nonprofit consumer advocacy organization founded in 1971. Public Citizen has over 400,000 due-paying members mainly in the United States. Global Trade Watch was created in 1995 to promote government and corporate accountability in the globalization and trade arena. Public Citizen did not get into "trade." Rather, we recognized early on that the interests we had long battled domestically in promoting our agenda of democratically accountable governance, economic justice, public health and environmental wellbeing were advocating for new international institutions where decisions could be made behind closed doors and without the participation of those who would live with the results. We learned how "trade" pacts such as the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) impose expansive constraints on federal, state and local governments with respect to many non-trade policies, from food and product safety to financial regulation to local development and access to essential services to climate change and the environment and more. The pacts also establish new rights for foreign investors to operate under deregulated terms in financial services, natural resource extraction, and other sensitive sectors. Effectively, these "trade" agreements shift an ever-increasing number of issues away from local decision-making bodies and into inaccessible foreign venues where few citizens or elected officials can follow. Thus, merely to remain effective in achieving our goals, Public Citizen had to design strategies to effectively engage in this new context.