Trading Democracy

Documentary Exposes How NAFTA's Chapter Eleven Has Become Private Justice for Foreign Companies

Premieres February 5 at 10:00 p.m. (ET) on PBS (check local listings)

Newest Collaboration Between Bill Moyers And Sherry Jones Investigating Our Democracy At Risk

Three years after a Mississippi jury found a Canadian-based conglomerate guilty of fraud in attempting to put a family-owned Biloxi funeral home out of business, the Canadian company filed a claim against the United States, demanding $725 million in compensation.

When California banned a gasoline additive that had contaminated drinking water throughout the state, another Canadian firm sued the US government to force citizens to pay nearly one billion dollars for its potential lost profits.

In what one attorney called "an end-run around the Constitution," corporations are using a little-known provision of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to challenge public laws, regulations and jury verdicts not only in the United States, but in Canada and Mexico as well. And they are arguing those cases not in courts of law, but before secret trade tribunals.

How can this be happening? And why do so few people know about it?

In the latest in their series of exposés on the secret recesses of American democracy, Bill Moyers and Sherry Jones uncover how multinational corporations have acquired the power to demand compensation if laws aimed at protecting the environment or public health harm them financially. The one-hour documentary, BILL MOYERS REPORTS: TRADING DEMOCRACY, premieres February 5 at 10:00 p.m. (ET) on PBS (check local listings).

"When the North American Free Trade Agreement became the law of the land almost a decade ago, the debate we heard was about jobs," notes Bill Moyers. "One provision was too obscure to stir up controversy. It was called Chapter Eleven, and it was supposedly written to protect investors from having their property seized by foreign governments. But since NAFTA was ratified, corporations have used Chapter Eleven to challenge the powers of government to protect its citizens, to undermine environmental and health laws, even attack our system of justice."

Speaking with legislators, public policy experts, community leaders, and citizens about the lawsuits filed under NAFTA's Chapter Eleven, BILL MOYERS REPORTS: TRADING DEMOCRACY unravels the hidden repercussions of a treaty that was supposed to promote democracy through free trade, but now appears to have given deep-pocketed corporations the means to undermine democracy across international borders.

TRADING DEMOCRACY is the latest collaboration between Bill Moyers and producer Sherry Jones, who produced TRADE SECRETS: A MOYERS REPORT in March 2001. Their previous productions include WASHINGTON'S OTHER SCANDAL, the Peabody-winning investigation of campaign finance scandals in the 1996 Presidential elections, and the Emmy-winning HIGH CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS for PBS's Frontline series.

Press Contacts

Kelly & Salerno Communications

Adina Barnett, 203-863-1008,

Ellen Levene, 212-255-7997,

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Need More Information?

Visit which includes a transcript of the documentary and an extensive collection of legal documents pertaining to the NAFTA Chapter 11 cases that TRADING DEMOCRACY explores.

Order the Video

The videocassette of BILL MOYERS REPORTS: TRADING DEMOCRACY is available at for home video use for $29.95 or with rights for group screenings at $149.95.

AMP Section Name:Trade Justice
  • 110 Trade Justice

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