About Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch (GTW)

Global Trade Watch’s mission is to ensure that in this era of globalization, a majority have the opportunity to enjoy economic security, a clean environment, safe food, medicines and products, access to quality affordable services such as health care and the exercise of democratic decision-making about the matters that affect our lives. Global Trade Watch has led the fight against corporate-rigged “trade” agreements that provide special powers for Big Pharma to raise medicine prices, promote the outsourcing of jobs to low-wage countries and undermine the food safety and other safeguards on which our families rely. For decades, we have fought for progressive alternatives that benefit people and the planet.

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What Is Global Trade Watch?

Global Trade Watch is a division of Public Citizen, the national, nonprofit consumer advocacy organization founded in 1971. Public Citizen has over 400,000 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 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) impose expansive constraints on what 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 – federal, state and local governments can maintain or enact. 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.

With Global Trade Watch having built unique substantive expertise and relationships with policymakers, activists, organizations, and the press around the world, Public Citizen is one of the few U.S. progressive organizations focused full-time on globalization issues. Our work seeks to make the measurable outcomes of the current policy model accessible to the public, while emphasizing that if the results are not acceptable, then the model can and must be changed or replaced. We have become a leader in promoting a public interest perspective on an array of globalization issues, including implications for access to affordable medicines; jobs and wages; food, health and safety; environmental protection, economic justice, and democratic, accountable governance. GTW has a proven ability to make complicated, seemingly arcane, intractable issues accessible and relevant to the press, policymakers, and the public – building bottom-up demand for change. GTW has a record of designing strategies and campaigns that operate on the local, state, national and international levels to affect policymaking outcomes.

Representatives of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch division serve on the Executive Board of the Citizens Trade Campaign, a coalition of labor, environmental, religious, family farm and consumer organizations united in the pursuit of socially and environmentally just trade policy.

How Does GTW Affect Public Policy?

GTW combines expertise in the terms and outcomes of agreements and policies with extensive grassroots, press, and policymaker relationships to design multifaceted national and international campaigns that focus on the current mechanisms of globalization – such as NAFTA, WTO, various Free Trade Agreements (FTA) – and the procedures by which such policies are designed and implemented. We carefully track ongoing negotiations and the outcomes of agreements and policies already in effect. We conduct research and monitor trade pact outcomes; publish books, reports and a wide range of other materials; maintain our online Trade Data Center of publicly accessible, localized information; educate the public through an extensive grassroots program; maintain relations with press and policymakers; and coordinate closely with an array of domestic and international allies and partners. We were a leading organization supporting the international movement of movements that defeated the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the expansion of the WTO’s powers and scope.

What Is GTW’s Philosophical Approach?

Animating many facets of our work is the concept of the “public citizen” — a person who, once empowered with information and tools to effect change, makes being an activist part of her or his daily life. Thus, a GTW goal is clarifying for people that the current globalization model is neither a random inevitability nor “free trade.” We have worked in many venues to demonstrate for the public, press and policymakers that our current system is merely one version of rules, which includes new protections and rights for investors and foreign corporations, monopoly protections for pharmaceutical firms, a “corporate-managed trade” system, removal of government safeguard policies on investment and finance, commodification of environmental commons and public services, deregulation and international “harmonization” of domestic regulatory standards. GTW has engaged many new constituencies by showing how “trade” policies affect their interests. All of our work seeks to make the measurable outcomes of this model accessible to people, while reiterating that if the results are not acceptable, then the model can and must be changed or replaced. We focus most of our resources on U.S. domestic work because, despite the real achievements of our counterparts in many nations, transformational change to the terms of globalization will be thwarted unless we can change the U.S. approach.

On What Key Issues Is Global Trade Watch Working?

What Are Some of Our Publications?

GTW serves as researcher and translator of an array of globalization issues for other organizations, the press, policy-makers and the public. We continually create, update and distribute materials ranging from lengthy, footnoted books and reports to fact sheets and talking points on a multiplicity of topics. In each section of our website, you will find a diverse set of materials that provide information for different audiences. This includes fact sheets and talking points on current campaigns, charts of how each member of Congress voted on each major trade vote since 1991, tables summarizing the outcomes of NAFTA, CAFTA, FTA and WTO cases, lengthy footnoted memos so you can dig deeper, copies of actual trade pact texts with annotation to make them user friendly and guides, such as our Pocket Trade Lawyer (available in numerous languages), and an on-line key to reading a GATS schedule and more. The goal of our website is to make accessible and understandable sometimes complicated or publicly unavailable information about trade and globalization and how it affects each of our daily lives. Do you need more information? Contact us on gtwinfo@citizen.org.

Contact Us

Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch,
215 Pennsylvania Ave, SE, Washington DC, 20003.
gtwinfo@citizen.org / www.tradewatch.org

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