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Trade Agreement Threats to State Sovereignty

By Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch

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International trade is no longer simply a federal matter. Today’s international trade agreements delve deeply into matters of state law. Pacts like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) contain numerous policy obligations and constraints to which U.S. federal, state and local governments are bound to conform their domestic policies. These types of “trade” agreements — which were passed in the United States using an extremely outdated, and now expired, trade negotiating process called Fast Track Trade Authority — undermine state regulatory authority in three major areas: government procurement, investment, and services.