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

Big Tech & The "Digital Trade"
Sneak Attack

Big Tech is trying to hijack  trade negotiations to lock in their massive powers and stop  government efforts to end Big Tech  abuses of workers, consumers and smaller businesses. The corporations are misbranding their attack against necessary government regulations as new “e-commerce” or “digital trade” policies and agreements. But this “digital trade” offensive in fact is just a stealthy new front in the ongoing power struggle between a relatively few digital mega-platforms versus national governments and all of us. Big Tech’s goal is to tie the hands of Congress and U.S. agencies before they can protect us from Big Tech abuses while trying to roll back the best gig worker and privacy protections, anti-monopoly and anti-discrimination rules worldwide.

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

About the Podcast

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.



On the latest episode of the Rethinking Trade podcast, our guests unpack the specific policies safeguarding Europeans’ privacy, busting Big Tech monopolies, and banning the most risky uses if AI. 
We’re joined by: 
•Calli Schroeder, Senior Counsel and Global Privacy Counsel at the Electronic Privacy Information Center
•Jesse Lehrich, Co-Founder of Accountable Tech
And how does this connect with trade, you ask? ICYMI, in past episodes we’ve exposed how the current favorite strategy of Big Tech lobbyists trying to kill the EU’s policies and evade any oversight here is to claim that these policies are illegal trade barriers. 
It’s confusing because they say that, but are also trying to get new rules negotiated in Asian and global trade agreements that actually would ban such policies. And also somehow if they do not get their way, China will benefit.
Yup, it makes no sense. But that’s the line. And its a fight that is heating up right now.
If nothing else, we promise if you listen you will know what all the EU acronyms you hear in the news mean – GDPR, DSA, DMA – oh my!

Stay in Touch

Sign up to receive periodic updates on the trade policy news, events, and research you care most about.