Star Wars Lore – The Trade Federation
Through shady business practices and a lust for power at all costs, the Trade Federation became one of the wealthiest corporate organisations in the galaxy. They even backed the Separatist Alliance during the Clone Wars, all while furthering their own goals in the Galactic Senate. However, by aligning with Darth Sidious, the Federation unknowingly signed their own death wish, as the Dark Lord sought to merely use them as a pawn in his grand plan for unlimited power...
A Greed For Power
Operated by the business-driven and cut-throat Neimoidian species, the Trade Federation became one of the galaxy's wealthiest corporate organisations. This granted them control of a large section of interstellar shipping through the Outer Rim Territories, and even representation in the Galactic Senate. The company's ultimate goal was to control all galactic trade routes, ports, and freighters, using their seat of power to do so. In essence, they strove to increase profits at all costs while doing anything to avoid Republic taxes.
As of 34 BBY, the monolithic organisation expanded its reach into the Outer Rim Territories, doing so by exploiting loopholes in the Republic's Free Trade Zone legislation. Their determination to monopolise such caught the attention of several lommite mining concerns in the Seswenna sector. The Trade Federation also embroiled itself with troubled King Ars Veruna of Naboo, and were partly responsible for an economic upswing for senators, lobbyists, and entrepreneurs on Coruscant. Though their greatest deal was yet to come; a deal with a Dark Lord.
Dealings With the Devil
Having followed their projects and operations for some time, Dark Lord of the Sith Darth Sidious sought to use the organisation in his quest for power. The secret partnership began prior to 19 BBY, when the Federation attempted to establish mining facilities in the Kellux system, beyond the sanctions of the Republic. The operation took a turn for the worse when a pirate faction decided to attack, using electrostatic field generators to render their droid forces inoperable. However, Darth Sidious was quick to dispatch his apprentice, Darth Maul. The Zabrak arrived in time to destroy a squadron of orb-wings, board a seized Federation battle ship, and cut down any pirate who crossed his path.
As a result of Prop 31-814D - a Republic law enabling the taxation of the Free Trade Zones - Darth Sidious urged the Trade Federation to blockade Naboo. Viceroy Nute Gunray fully complied. He also oversaw the planet's invasion, following failed negotiation talks with two apparent Jedi Knights. But neither Gunray nor his colleagues knew of Sidious' true intentions. Which was why their occupations of Naboo and its capital city, Theed, were ultimately thwarted - as behind the scenes, the Dark Lord used his alter ego of Sheev Palpatine to manipulate Queen Amidala and the Galactic Senate. By making Supreme Chancellor Valorum look slow and weak in his decision making, he was able to bargain for a Vote of No Confidence. Sidious then positioned himself as a candidate for the vacant role, and thus became the succeeding Supreme Chancellor. Though that was only part one of his grand plan, and the Trade Federation were still very much at the forefront of his menacing scheme.
Having suffered a major loss on Naboo, the Federation's monopoly on Outer Rim trading began to sway. Companies such as Eriadu Mining and Shipping prospered, as a result, all while the Separatist Crisis grew. But Nute Gunray was all too keen to bounce back. In fact, after evading Republic imprisonment through multiple trials, and retaining his position as the head of the organisation, Gunray helped establish secret factories on the surface of Geonosis that would mass-produce battle droids. This fully prepared the Trade Federation for an upcoming pan-galactic conflict - the Clone Wars.
Despite pledging their support to the Confederacy of Independent Systems, and becoming a major military benefactor throughout the Clone Wars, the Trade Federation publicly denied any links to Count Dooku and his movement. Moreover, the organisation were allowed to maintain their seat in the Senate by confirming a “neutral stance”. Of course, the Separatists were destined for defeat, thanks to Palpatine's meddling. And while its leaders - including Viceroy Gunray – were promised peace, Sidious had other ideas. The dark lord simply did not need the Trade Federation nor its allies any longer, and so ordered his new apprentice Darth Vader to wipe them all out.
Without leadership, the organisation was nationalised by the newly-formed Galactic Empire, while its accounts were plundered by Imperial financier and former Federation employee Arsin Crassus. If that wasn't bad enough, it was vilified by many throughout the Empire's rule. Leo Leonis, for example, considered the Federation's reign as a bad dream, while others accused them of engineering famines. In all, people found it very difficult to sympathise with an organisation who wanted it all, only to lose everything they had so callously worked for...
Now it's time for this week's question: if you were in Darth Sidious' shoes, would you have also destroyed the Separatists, or left them be as allies of the Empire? Let us know in the comments below.