The Eriadu Trade Summit was an event proposed by Senator Palpatine in 33 BBY, ostensibly to gather all parties affected by Supreme Chancellor Finis Valorum's proposal to allow the Trade Federation an increase in standing permissible armament in exchange for Galactic Senate taxation of free-trade zones. The Nebula Front, a radical political group that opposed the Trade Federation, was specifically not allowed to attend the event. That decision, as it combined with the Front's longstanding disquiet and its mistrust of the Republic Senate, resulted in the first of two staged 'attempts' on Valorum's life by the spurned Nebula Front's extremist leadership—the first occurring on Coruscant, and the second, at the Summit itself. The well-publicized event was held on the planet of Eriadu, an important trade world in the Outer Rim.
As it played out, however, the Trade Summit ended in disaster. The majority of the Trade Federation Directorate—the enemy's true target—was assassinated by its own security force in a plan carefully orchestrated by Darth Plagueis and Darth Sidious, who made the Nebula Front appear responsible for the murders. No consensus was reached at Eriadu regarding the taxation of trade routes, and the Trade Federation was placed under the leadership of Nute Gunray, who would proceed—in protest of the Senate's subsequent legislation to tax the free-trade zones anyway, without any reciprocal agreement to benefit or protect the Federation whatsoever—to blockade all trade to the planet of Naboo.
- "What prompted you to propose this summit on Eriadu?"
Palpatine ignored the goblets of wine. "The summit will provide an opportunity for everyone involved to air their thoughts and grievances regarding taxation of the trade zones."
"I'm certain that your friends in the Trade Federation are very appreciative."
- ―King Veruna of Naboo and Senator Palpatine
In 33 BBY increased political pressure was placed on Finis Valorum, the Supreme Chancellor of the Galactic Republic, by the Trade Federation and its political allies regarding his proposal to tax trade routes in the outer systems. In order to discuss Valorum's proposed legislation, the senator from Naboo, Palpatine, suggested that a summit be held on the Outer Rim planet of Eriadu, where the Trade Federation and its delegates could share their ideas on the proposed legislation and debate with their political opponents. The summit was to serve as a platform for all relevant parties to express their viewpoints on the taxation of the outer trade routes; as such, all voting on the matter was postponed until the summit's completion.
The summit itself was held in Seswenna Hall in Eriadu City. Organizations and governments invited to the Summit included the Association of Free Trade Worlds, the Commerce Guild, the Corporate Alliance, the Hutts, the Rights of Sentience League, Senex sector, the Stark Veteran Assembly, the Techno Union, and the Trade Federation. Although the Republic was represented by Valorum personally, many of its member worlds were allowed their own delegations, including Bothawui, Clak'dor VII, Falleen, Malastare, and Sullust. The Nebula Front itself was not invited despite its concerns regarding the Trade Federation, because Valorum believed that it would only grant them unwarranted legitimacy.
The Nebula Front, however, was concerned that the Trade Federation would pass on the additional costs of taxation to those who used their shipping services. Having been denied a voice at the trade summit, the Nebula Front's enigmatic leader Eru Matalis—known to his allies as Havac (but who, as the Front's former Eriadu-cell leader, was under secret conscription to Eriadu Lieutenant Governor Wilhuff Tarkin in league with higher and darker powers)—made 'plans' with the mercenary Captain Cohl to assassinate Valorum during the trade summit (a sinister decoy to the real target: the Federation Directorate). The Front's 'official' intent, as propagated by its extremist leader, Havac, was to prevent the new taxation in the hope that the outer worlds could avoid increased shipping costs while the Front continued its campaign of violence against the Trade Federation; a more moderate (and less violent) faction of the Front wished for more temperate means to achieve its goals.
As the Eriadu Summit was essentially a meeting of the Republic and Trade Federation, those organizations were represented by their leaders, the Supreme Chancellor and the Directorate, respectively. However, it was to be a serious mistake; in an act orchestrated by Darth Sidious, security droids assassinated six of the seven Directorate members as the Front's extremist leadership (the founder of its militant wing) created an illusion: Havac staged (for the second time in weeks) a falsely orchestrated 'attempt' on the life of Valorum, to conjure in the Republic's mind an overwhelming bias not only for the suspected target, but also for the 'obvious' culpability of the Nebula Front (that is, the conglomerate, seemingly united public face of its disparate factions). In the end, the Nebula Front was held responsible for all murderous attacks—both true and feigned—that occurred at the Trade Summit.
As a result, the Summit ended prematurely, with nothing resolved. It was a major public relations disaster for both the Jedi who failed to prevent the attacks, and for Valorum himself. Lieutenant Governor Tarkin, complicit in the murders—having arranged delivery to Seswenna Hall of the rogue 'commander' droid that drove the killing rampage of the Federation's own 'follower' droids—blocked (or irreparably stalled) all subsequent investigative attempts under the auspices of Eriaduan jurisdiction. The Senate unilaterally passed its new taxation laws anyway, while also passing restrictions on the Chancellor's use of the Judicial Department and Jedi Order. The deaths of his hapless colleagues allowed Viceroy Nute Gunray to assume direct control of the Trade Federation and order a blockade of Naboo as retaliation against the Republic and Naboo's treacherous senator who had proposed both the summit and taxation. Thus, the Summit's failure set the stage for the blockade and Battle of Naboo.
The Naboo stopover
- "From now on, Naboo will manage its own resources. Gardulla and Black Sun will supervise the export of plasma and the import of goods, and the Bando Gora will protect our interests in the space lanes. It's a pity you won't be a part of it."
"A pity to be sure. Until such time as you replace me, Majesty, I will continue to act in Naboo's best interests, at Eriadu and on Coruscant. Should I see Damask, I'll be certain to tell him that he underestimated ... your ambitions."
"Don't concern yourself unduly, Palpatine. You won't be seeing him again."
- ―King Veruna spars unwittingly with a Sith Lord
As a repercussionistic sidenote to this Trade Summit account, Palpatine—who made a brief Naboo stopover visit at the request of King Ars Veruna on his way to the Eriadu summit from Coruscant—had, by the time he reached Eriadu, already been apprised of the imminent Bando Gora-Gardulla-Black Sun-Veruna plot to kill Hego Damask (Palpatine's master, Darth Plagueis): the self-same nuclear bombardment of the Sojourn-moon that Palpatine himself had orchestrated, unbeknownst to his unwitting pawns (and clearly also to his own dark 'master'). A drunken Veruna gloated amidst a banquet thrown for his dark accomplices (all of whom, it appeared to Palpatine, were in attendance) that the King was now, even as he spoke and the Trade Summit events unfurled, 'ending' his partnership with both Damask and the Trade Federation—bragging that the senator need not bother about giving any sort of warning to his IBC associate, for Palpatine would not be seeing him again. Which is to say, that the nuclear run on Sojourn was being carried out at that very moment. But despite what were meant to be vitriolic, hurtful words at the senator's expense, Palpatine/Darth Sidious silently gloried in the sublime ignorance of everyone about him, quietly amused himself with the wholly painless jabs of his would-be injurers: the Naboo senator couldn't have been more delighted that a nuclear bomb was on its way to Sojourn, where his unsuspecting 'master' was surely laboring diligently in his life-extension labs, busy in his quest for everlasting life through midi-chlorian manipulation. After all, it was Palpatine who, some time earlier, had ingeniously planted the seeds for such an attack in Veruna's mind, had quietly manipulated the King's thinking, to cause him to believe that he had engendered the idea himself.
It was only a short time later, amidst the rousing orchestral music that preceded the commencement of the Trade Summit event in Eriadu City's Seswenna Hall, that Naboo's senatorial delegate to the Galactic Republic mentioned to a small group of fellow senators also in attendance (one of whom had noticed Palpatine's rather pensive demeanor, a seeming preoccupation) that he'd just learned of King Veruna's sudden abdication of the throne. This gossip-inducing news—communicated to Palpatine by Damask himself, and which had occurred, the Muun said, immediately after Jabba the Hutt had delivered to the Naboo monarch the startling revelation of his bitter enemy's almost-miraculous survival of Sojourn's nuclear blast—defined a watershed event for the future of the galaxy (for it marked Amidala's rise to the throne and all that would flow from that seminal event). In the sequence of Eriadu events dealing with the Trade Federation controversy, Veruna's abdication was thus shown to follow on the heels of (for it was directly brought on by) the failed nuclear attempt on Damask's life. That the nuclear mission had been a failure accounts, perhaps, for Palpatine's pensive aspect, but otherwise things were developing precisely according to the senator's own interpretation—his personal galactic view—of the Grand Plan, and he was pleased.
Behind the scenes
The Eriadu Trade Summit featured in the 2001 novel Cloak of Deception, written by James Luceno. The event was later mentioned in Luceno's other novels, Darth Plagueis and Labyrinth of Evil. The summit was also noted in The New Essential Guide to Characters, The New Essential Chronology, and the The Official Starships & Vehicles Collection 33 and The Official Starships & Vehicles Collection 35.
- Darth Plagueis (Indirect mention only)
- Cloak of Deception (First appearance)
- Maul: Lockdown (Mentioned only)
- Labyrinth of Evil (Indirect mention only)
- The Official Star Wars Fact File 13 (NAB9, The Naboo Blockade) (Indirect mention only)
- The New Essential Guide to Characters
- Star Wars: Attack of the Clones Incredible Cross-Sections
- The New Essential Chronology
- Star Wars: The Official Starships & Vehicles Collection 33
- Star Wars: The Official Starships & Vehicles Collection 35
Notes and references
- Cloak of Deception
- Veruna's banquet, it seems, was organized really for himself: to drown out (perhaps with the little extra help of flowing 'blossom wine' and other inebriants) the raucous clamor of celebration happening just outside in the Theed Palace Plaza, where hordes of enthusiastic Nabooian citizens had gathered to hear young Padmé Naberrie speak (soon to be Amidala). Attending the King's extravagant 'counterevent' in the palace throne room were Veruna's most corrupt supporters and highly dubious offworlders, including Alexi Garyn, head of the Black Sun crime syndicate, and crimelord Gardulla the Hutt with her retinue of Bando Gora terrorist leaders. Palpatine could easily sense that the drunk and agitated King of Naboo—faced with allegations of corruption in an ongoing foreign affairs scandal, the threatening outcome of the Eriadu Trade Summit just getting underway, and, of course, a most formidable rising opponent to his retention of the throne—was about to buckle and break under the sheer weight of it all. The senator was fully confident that Veruna would collapse at the foot of his gaudy throne, in a pathetic heap of political self-destruction, very soon. —Darth Plagueis, chapter 26: Their Baser Nature
- Darth Plagueis