Art by Marc Palmer
The original NAFTA deal was a disaster for working class people around the continent. It was an attack on unions, it was an attack on family farmers, it was an attack on small businesses, it was an attack on communities throughout the continent and spurred a wave of a failed economic model throughout the globe. The Trump administration is desperate for a win and has pressured Canada and Mexico into re-negotiations with the objective of completing these before the end of the year, scared of Mexico’s presidential elections in 2018 where a candidate who represents the interests of the working class remains the favorite to win. We defeated the Trans-Pacific Partnership already, but now the powerful corporations of the continent want to slide it into the improvised NAFTA re-negotations.
We must fight back against a NAFTA deal, everything indicates that the re-negotiations is likely to threaten working people, the environment, and basic tenets of democracy. Here is why we are worried:
The administration’s stated objectives with the NAFTA re-negotiation draw heavily from the failed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). We do not want a trade deal that was negotiated in secret amongst hundreds of corporate advisors to be the model for the North American economy. There is no respect for the principles of democracy when the peoples of Mexico, Canada, and the United States are excluded from the decision-making process that will define our own lives. A trade deal for the people would publish the results of every step of the negotiations, would be transparent in the actors and stakeholders influencing decisions and inclusive in who may join Trade Advisory Committees, and would have a strong transparency enforcement and accountability mechanisms.
For more information visit EFF’s Trade Transparency Recommendations.
Investor State Dispute Settlement
The state NAFTA objetives seek to solidify the Investor-State Dispute Settlment mechanism (ISDS), which has a proven track-record of attacking labor and environmental protections that do not benefit multi-national corporations. The ISDS has cost governments millions of tax-payer dollars that should be going towards essential public services. There can be no justice in an international dispute settlement system that is set up by corporations for their own benefit without public and democratic accountability. ISDS is not only a threat to our labor laws and environmental protections, but to a democratic government itself.
For more information visit Public Citizen’s ISDS Resources Page.
Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Trump’s NAFTA has no objectives that seek to guarantee and enforce the rights of indigenous peoples. No government should be allowed to overstep the sovereignty and rights of indigenous peoples to free, prior and informed consent. Indigenous peoples’ rights to self-determination, lands and resources must not continue to be trompled over as they have for centuries. As some of the most marginalized in the world, bearing a disproportionate burden of a system that contains systemic imbalances between the enforcement of corporate invstors’ rights and human rights, indigenous peoples’ rights must be central to any just collaboration between the North American governments.
For more information read UN Special Rapporteur Victoria Taulli-Corpuz’s report on the impact of free trade deals on the rights of indigenous peoples.
The Trump administration has already left the Paris Climate Accord and pushed forward the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines despite widespread opposition, probable serious environmental damage, and violation of treaties with the Standing Rock Sioux people. NAFTA was never meant for us if it cares more about the profits of oil and energy companies than the cleanliness of our water and reversing the widespread contamination that drives climate change. We need international agreements that considers the protection of the environment and addressing climate change a priority and not a limitation. Additionally, the Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary Measures Chapter must be dropped and reconsidered. We are concerned that these provisions will make it even easier to challenge food safety and animal welfare safeguards.
For more information visit Sierra Club’s Reponsible Trade Campaign and Friends of the Earth’s analysis on the USTR’s NAFTA objectives.
Worker Rights and Immigration
Unions and working people have faced constant attacks from corporations in under a NAFTA economic model that promotes a race to the bottom. Workers deserve fair wages, benefits, and protections and these should be guaranteed and made enforceable through any agreements made with Mexico and Canada. Union and workers from all sectors and nationalities must have a significant say in what is in any NAFTA re-negotiation as the original deal’s impact fell heavily on workers across the continent. Trade agreements should strive for gender equality in the workplace and increased job opportunities for the poor and communities of color. The rights of migrant workers must be guaranteed under any agreement and be accompanied by significant immigration reform that reverses the criminalization of immigrants and divisions of people along borders.
Fair and Sustainable Agriculture
According to The Insitute for Agricutlure and Trade Policy, the USTR’s NAFTA “Agriculture, Sanitary and Phytosanitary, and Service chapter objectives are the same as for the TPP. The elimination of Chapter 19 will ensure that dumping of commodities (illegal for industrial goods) occurs unchecked by countervailing duties. Most frustratingly, the objectives will do nothing to incentivize food production that will protect the livelihoods of farmers, the safety of consumers, or the health of the planet.” A trade model that guarantees fair and sustainable agriculture would protect small farmers by allowing and encouraging them to share and save seeds and simultaneously appropriately regulate agricultural biotechnology products.
For more information visit The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy.