Obstructions to Trade??

Under the NAFTA agreement corporations have the ability to sue a country if it is deemed to obstruct free trade (5).

Here are some examples of obstructions to trade:

  • Canada attempted to protect its citizen's health from the effects of a dangerous fuel additive. The attempt was overturned and dubbed an obstruction to free trade. A US chemical manufacturing corporation that produces this additive then sued Canada on the account of their obstruction (5).
  • "Mexico wanted to prevent a hazardous waste disposal plant from being set up by a US firm. It also extended the proposed area into an environmental zone as it was found to be an ecologically sensitive area. That was enough for a US firm to claim grounds to sue under the NAFTA treaty. In fact, it turns out that Mexico is ordered to pay the US company $17 million" (5).
  • "A Canadian-based company, Methanex Corporation, filed against the United States, claiming that California's decision to phase out the use of its gasoline additive methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) cost the company 970 million dollars. There were potentially high levels of MTBE in California's drinking supply" (5).

Needless to say, trade agreements like NAFTA and FTAA provide corporations with the ability to get away with almost anything under the notion that an action in the interest of a particular state may be obstructing trade.

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