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
- "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.