Rethink Trade

Rethink Trade fights for good jobs, a healthy environment, robust and fair markets where small businesses can thrive and safe and affordable medicine, food and goods. And we believe those who will live with the results must decide the policies affecting their lives. That’s why we work to replace the current “trade” rules that were formed by and for the world’s largest corporate powers with damaging results for most people and the planet.

Our Issues

Unveiling “Digital Trade” Threats to Tech Oversight​

The largest online platforms, like Google and Amazon, and their myriad lobbying associations and front groups have lobbied to capture trade negotiations to insert binding trade-agreement terms that would derail countries’ online privacycompetitionartificial intelligenceright to repaircivil rights and other policies. The companies’ goal is to lock in their outsized power and preempt efforts to regulate the digital economy in the public interest now underway on a bipartisan basis in the U.S. Congress and by the Biden administration and governments worldwide.

Because trade negotiations are secretive and technical, and countries must conform their domestic policies to the resulting rules, special interests are pushing this international preemption strategy in dozens of “digital trade,” “e-commerce,” or “digital economy” agreements now being negotiated. 

IPEF & APEP: Biden Trade Proposals


President Biden pledged to create a new “worker centered” trade agreement model. This is not only smart policy, but politically necessary. Decades of corporate-rigged trade pacts caused such significant harm to people and the planet that the last such deal, the TPP, couldn’t garner a majority in Congress during the Obama administration — proving the old trade model is no longer politically viable. The Biden administration proposes negotiations for an Indo-Pacific Economic Framework  (IPEF) and an Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity (APEP). If talks start, will they promote or undermine goals people nationwide demand like ending Big Tech abuses against workers, consumers and smaller businesses, cutting medicine prices, fixing broken supply chains, and more.

Hyperglobalization vs. Supply Chains

Decades of hyperglobalization as implemented by corporate-rigged “free trade” policies have concentrated the production of essential goods in too few countries and companies. This model has hollowed out U.S. manufacturing capacity and left the U.S. overly dependent on long, brittle supply chains for essential goods. This exposes us to economic, public health and national security vulnerabilities. We must replace the failed hyperglobalization model with  pro-worker, pro-equity, pro-community, pro-environment rules for the economy to promote reliable and resilient supply chains, domestic economic security and infrastructure, climate, public health and other goals.

Revised NAFTA & Workers’ Rights

Corporate-rigged trade agreements have promoted the outsourcing of jobs to countries where wages are low and workers have no rights. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and its many Free Trade Agreement (FTA) clones include foreign investor rights that make it safe and easy to relocate jobs. But these pacts have no enforceable labor or environmental conditions on the products that are sent back for sale here duty-free. The U.S. government certified more than one million Americans lost their jobs to NAFTA. In 2020, Congress voted to update NAFTA with better labor standards and enforcement. Much more remains to be done to fix the old trade agreement model. But, we can test if the labor terms can make a difference for workers here and in Mexico.

Big Pharma Monopolies Kill Access to COVID Meds

Unless governments take action to expand global production capacity for COVID-19 vaccines, diagnostic tests, and treatments, we will face an endless cycle of new variants. Some could be more lethal. Pharmaceutical corporations have used intellectual property monopolies imposed by the World Trade Organization and other “trade” pacts to limit how much and where COVID-19 medicines can be made. Despite the vast majority of WTO member nations supporting an emergency waiver of WTO IP barriers that undermine global access to lifesaving COVID vaccines, at a June 2022 Ministerial conference, the pharmaceutical industry and its governmental allies in a few wealthy countries blocked the waiver. Now, more than three years into a pandemic and with more than 15 million dead, the fight for global access to COVID meds continues! Most WTO countries now seek a decision to ease WTO IP barriers limiting global production and distribution of generic COVID treatments and tests.

The Latest

Rethinking Trade Podcast

with Lori Wallach

Welcome to Rethinking Trade with Lori Wallach, where we unpack “trade” policy, law and politics and how it affects your daily life more than you think. Much of what is labeled trade today is not about actual trade stuff, like tariffs or quotas. 

We’ll reveal how Big Tech, Big Pharma, Wall Street et al. use the trade brand to rig the rules against working people, consumers, small businesses and farmers and consolidate monopoly control, outsource jobs and undermine food safety and our environment. We’ll debunk myths used to sell the corporate-managed trade agenda, which also has done major damage in the developing world. And, we’ll share alternatives we support.

We’ve got a new podcast episode and it’s a bit different!

A veritable OG trade crew got together for a kick-ass discussion on “A New Trade Policy to Break Up Corporate Power” at our recent Anti-Monopoly Summit.

How OG? The discussion is led by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) the House Trade Working Groups chair (and House Approps Ranking Member!) and features Thea Lee (Deputy Undersecretary for International Affairs, Department of Labor) and Scott Paul (President, Alliance for American Manufacturing) and our own Lori Wallach, Director, AELP’s Rethink Trade.

After hearing the discussion, it will be crystal clear why replacing pro-monopoly trade rules is critical to enhancing economic justice, our economic resilience and security and battle climate chaos.

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