TJN’s Submission to Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity (APEP) Consultation

  • Trade Justice Network
  • 22 May 2023
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The Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity (APEP, aka. the Americas Partnership) is a proposed regional economic cooperation framework between 12 countries in North, Central, and South America.

APEP was first announced in June 2022 by US President Biden, and its broad objectives were agreed to in January 2023 in the Joint Declaration on APEP. This meeting also agreed on APEP’s four main “pillars”: 1) regional competitiveness, 2) resilient supply chains, 3) shared prosperity, and 4) sustainable investment. Notably, APEP has no new trade liberalization (tariff reductions and market access).

This new approach comes as governments around the world are starting to recognize what activists have said for decades: the status quo in the global economy is failing. For almost 30 years, Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) have consistently put corporate profits before workers’ wages, have put investor rights before environmental protections, and have facilitated privatization and exploitative wage and regulatory arbitrage. The result has been obscene wealth inequality, rapid climate change, and dysfunctional democracies.

APEP is framed as a new direction to solve these problems. The US government describes APEP as a new type of economic agreement aimed at “bottom-up growth” and “worker-centered trade policy”, and the Canadian government lists negotiating objectives like reducing social and economic inequality, combatting climate change, promoting democracy, and upholding human rights.

The Canadian government invited feedback on these early objectives from stakeholders between March 25 to May 9. Attached above is the Trade Justice Network’s joint submission to that consultation. As representatives of Canadian labour, environmental, farmer, and other civil society organizations, this document outlines what we see as the key provisions needed for APEP to live up to the ambitious rhetoric from the American and Canadian governments.

APEP must exclude:

  • investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) rules
  • digital trade provisions that entrench existing tech monopolies
  • “good regulatory practices” provisions which restrict public-interest regulations
  • provisions leading to privatization of public services

APEP must include:

  • labour rights that are strong, binding, and enforceable
  • effective enforcement for labour rights modeled on CUSMA’s Rapid Response Mechanism (RRM)
  • environmental provisions that are strong, binding, and enforceable
  • termination of ISDS rules in existing FTAs between APEP members
  • respect for Indigenous rights as recognized in international treaties
  • cooperative standards for regulating emergent AI tools democratically and in the public interest

For APEP to promote democracy, its negotiations must be:

  • transparent: the public must know what is proposed on their behalf, and draft texts must be public
  • democratic: goals should be determined by the public, not by lead negotiators and trade Ministers
  • participatory: the public should be involved in APEP’s design via deliberative and participatory democratic processes

This statement represents the first step towards a broader APEP campaign by our members in Canadian civil society and our international allies. Follow this page for updates on our upcoming work on APEP.

For more information about this statement or TJN’s other work on APEP, contact: