Last month, the Trump White House announced that it would renegotiate NAFTA. Revisiting the two-decade old trade agreement that Trump repeatedly called a “disaster” on the campaign trail will likely be another corporate giveaway — adding on to his sweetheart deregulation deals for polluters, Wall Street, internet barons and the pharmaceutical industry.
There is no question that NAFTA needs a complete overhaul in order to become a trade deal that could ever benefit workers, communities, consumers and the environment. Advocates have been pushing to rewrite NAFTA since it went into effect, but the corporate globalists that have seized the reins of power in the Trump White House will likely only make NAFTA worse.
That is a pretty startling fact: NAFTA can get worse. NAFTA shuttered thousands of factories and cost upwards of one million manufacturing jobs. NAFTA introduced the first corporate investment rules that let foreign companies sue for monetary damages if they allege that government decisions or regulations eat into their profits, as TransCanada did over the rejected Keystone XL pipeline — a suit they wasn’t suspended until Trump promised to restart the despicable project.
NAFTA was the first of the Big Business-oriented trade pacts. But now, twenty years later, the corporate champions of global trade deals have lots of new tricks up their sleeves. The scuttled Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) would have fulfilled a global deregulation wish list for Wall Street, the pharmaceutical industry, big agribusiness, telecommunications giants and fossil fuel polluters.
Now, the Trump administration is planning to use the renegotiation to cram the pro-business TPP provisions into NAFTA—a deregulation “starting point” that the White House plans to push even further. We all fought to block the TPP because workers, communities and the environment — here and in the other TPP countries — deserve a trade deal that puts people ahead of profits. A real NAFTA renegotiation should replace NAFTA from top to bottom. We won’t stand for a renegotiation that makes NAFTA even worse.
Luckily, the progressive movement that opposed decades of destructive corporate trade deals has offered genuine reforms that would protect workers, farmers and the environment in the United States, Mexico and Canada. There is broad consensus on many changes — eliminating the corporate trade lawsuits against regulations, ensuring that workplace safety, environmental and food safety protections are exempt from trade disputes and getting rid of incentives to offshore jobs.
Food & Water Watch and our food and farm allies released principles for a new agriculture trade policy to prioritize farmers in the United States, Mexico and Canada ahead of agribusinesses, protect farmworkers and food industry workers and let each country establish appropriate farm and food policies, including pesticide standards and country-of-origin food labels. We also worked with Sierra Club, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and others to develop a list of essential environmental protections to include in future trade deals that would fight climate change, curb pollution and promote healthy communities and good jobs.
The Citizens’ Trade Campaign offered a platform of sensible NAFTA reforms including eliminating corporate trade lawsuits and provisions that drive up the cost of medicines as well as ensuring that imports meet our safety and environmental standards. The AFL-CIO has a blueprint to rewrite NAFTA into a “tool to raise wages and working conditions in all three North American countries rather than lower them.”
It is time to fight to replace NAFTA with a progressive trade policy that works for everyone, not just Big Business. We know what needs to be done, now we have to push Congress and the White House to deliver the trade policies everyone deserves. Take action today.