Democratic Candidates Say NAFTA 2.0 Should Not Be Approved As Written

For Immediate Release
Updated June 24, 2019

Democratic Presidential Candidates United that NAFTA 2.0 Should Not Be Approved As Written

Leading White House Contenders Say Trump’s NAFTA Proposal Needs Stronger Terms on Labor, the Environment, Enforcement & New Monopolies for Big Pharma Must Be Eliminated

Washington, D.C. — Democratic presidential candidates are united in the view that the Trump administration’s proposal for a revised North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) should not be approved by Congress without substantive improvements to the text Donald Trump signed last year.

All seventeen candidates — including Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg, Beto O’Rourke, Julián Castro and others — who responded to a question posed by a national coalition working on trade policy agreed that the new NAFTA proposal “should not be enacted unless and until stronger labor and environmental terms with swift and certain enforcement are added and language on pharmaceutical monopolies that locks in high medicine prices is removed.”

“Given how important Trump’s trade promises were to his 2016 election, it’s not surprising that those looking to unseat him are quick to point out that Trump’s proposed NAFTA revision fails to make the changes needed to stop outsourcing and that its new giveaways for pharmaceutical companies would lock in high drug prices,” said Arthur Stamoulis, executive director of Citizens Trade Campaign, the coalition of labor, environmental, family farm, faith and consumer organizations that approached the various campaigns on the issue.  “Americans deserve a comprehensive NAFTA replacement that actually protects jobs, raises wages, defends worker rights and safeguards the environment.  A lot more work is needed to get there.”

While some Republicans and corporate lobby groups are pushing for Congress to approve the NAFTA 2.0 text as written this summer, House Democrats are currently urging the White House to make changes to its NAFTA proposal in the areas of labor, the environment, enforcement and access to medicines before introducing the pact for a vote.  Democratic Congress members’ resolve could be bolstered by the unanimous support of so many Democratic candidates vying for the presidency.

Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Julián Castro, Bill de Blasio, Kirsten Gillibrand, Mike Gravel, Kamala Harris, John Hickenlooper, Jay Inslee, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O’Rourke, Tim Ryan, Bernie Sanders, Eric Swalwell, Elizabeth Warren and Marianne Williamson each answered “Yes” to the question, “Do you agree that the revised version of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) signed by President Trump on November 30, 2018 should not be enacted unless and until stronger labor and environmental terms with swift and certain enforcement are added and language on pharmaceutical monopolies that locks in high medicine prices is removed?”

The following candidates also offered these additional comments:

Sen. Cory Booker
“I am opposed to President Trump’s new NAFTA deal. It should be renegotiated to strengthen labor protections and environmental standards, and improve access to prescription drugs.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio
“America doesn’t want NAFTA 2.0 and that is exactly what the agreement President Trump signed is.

“For decades Republicans – and too many Democrats – promised American workers that the benefits of free trade would ‘trickle down’ to them. It didn’t happen and it won’t happen under the terms of the deal President Trump has negotiated.

“Trump’s new NAFTA will do nothing to address the problems with the old NAFTA. While masquerading as ‘America First,’ Trump’s proposal prohibits ‘Buy American’ procurement policies. It makes no mention of climate change but gives oil and gas companies new tools to evade Mexican environmental laws. It allows big pharma to lock in higher prescription drug prices. And it doesn’t do anything to address the outsourcing of U.S. jobs.

“For Congress to consider approving this trade deal significant changes must be made: removing sweetheart provisions for fossil fuel and pharmaceutical companies, and significantly strengthening enforcement of labor and environmental provisions.

“What America truly needs is an entirely new approach to trade that puts working people and our planet first, not multinational corporations. Trump’s NAFTA 2.0 doesn’t provide that.”

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand
“NAFTA must be completely overhauled in order to establish dependable trading conditions that are fair for our communities and our workers. Any changes to NAFTA must strengthen enforcement provisions and increase protections for labor and the environment because our workers can out-compete anyone in the world on a balanced playing field. Too many drug companies care more about their own profits than whether sick patients have access to medicine. I will advocate that any new deal must break the stranglehold of pharmaceutical companies on high drug prices to help people get access to the medicine they need.”
Sen. Mike Gravel
“NAFTA and its updated worker pillaging version signed by Trump are treaties designed to extract the greatest amount of surplus value from workers by slashing wages through relocation and instigating phony race to the bottom competition between workers in North America. The Reagan Administration illegally collaborated with the auto industry to move it out of Detroit and Clinton put the nail in the coffin by signing NAFTA. At a moment when there’s a timidly resurgent labour movement in Mexico and the United States, Trump is trying to stifle it through regulatory action and trade sleight of hands like the new treaty.”
Sen. Kamala D. Harris
“I believe the purpose of any trade agreement must be to create jobs in America, raise wages, and strengthen the middle class. That’s why, as president, I will not sign any trade agreement unless it contains strong and enforceable provisions to protect workers, safeguard our environment, and crack down on trade manipulation by other countries. In my Administration, labor will have a seat at the table to ensure any agreement meets that test. It’s clear the so-called ‘U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement’ does not, and as a result, I will not support it.”
Gov. Jay Inslee
“I believe we must revise North American trade policy in a way that directly confronts climate change and implements strong, enforceable labor and environmental standards that help the United States meet climate action goals. Currently, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) negotiated by the Trump Administration does not contain sufficiently enforceable labor or environmental standards, nor does it even mention the term ‘climate change.’ Clearly, we must do better.
“I also believe that U.S. trade policies, trade agreements, and trade relationships should all be evaluated to ensure they are consistent with the swift and just transition to a global carbon-free future. Historically, American trade policy — and most international trade agreements — has often been an impediment to effective climate action. America’s trade agreements have frequently preferred corporate profits over protections for workers, consumers, public health, and the climate or the environment. This profits-over-people approach to trade has led to a series of missed opportunities. That is why I have proposed applying a new and enforceable climate standard to American trade agreements, to condition their terms upon each party’s commitment to adopt, maintain and implement policies specifically to fulfill their commitments to the Paris Agreement, and to take other actions, such as investing in global climate mitigation and adaptation, and adopting and implementing other agreements such as the Kigali Amendment.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders
“The reality is that Trump’s NAFTA 2.0 would do nothing to prevent corporations from shipping jobs to Mexico where workers are paid less than two bucks an hour. It includes outrageous giveaways to the fossil fuel and pharmaceutical industries. So, I say to Donald Trump: For once in your life, keep your campaign promises. Go back to the drawing board on NAFTA. Do not send this treaty to Congress until it includes strong and swift enforcement mechanisms to raise the wages of workers to prevent corporations from outsourcing American jobs to Mexico and protect the environment. And take out all of the riders in your treaty that increase prescription drug prices and benefit big oil companies. We need a trade policy in America that works for working families, not the CEOs of multinational corporations.”
Sen. Elizabeth Warren
“There’s no question we need to renegotiate NAFTA. The federal government has certified that NAFTA has already cost us nearly a million good American jobs – and big companies continue to use NAFTA to outsource jobs to Mexico to this day. But as it’s currently written, Trump’s deal won’t stop the serious and ongoing harm NAFTA causes for American workers. It won’t stop outsourcing, it won’t raise wages, and it won’t create jobs. It’s NAFTA 2.0.
“For example, NAFTA 2.0 has better labor standards on paper but it doesn’t give American workers enough tools to enforce those standards. Without swift and certain enforcement of these new labor standards, big corporations will continue outsourcing jobs to Mexico to so they can pay workers less.
“NAFTA 2.0 is also stuffed with handouts that will let big drug companies lock in the high prices they charge for many drugs. The new rules will make it harder to bring down drug prices for seniors and anyone else who needs access to life-saving medicine.
“And NAFTA 2.0 does little to reduce pollution or combat the dangers of climate change – giving American companies one more reason to close their factories here and move to Mexico where the environmental standards are lower. That’s bad for the earth and bad for American workers.
“For these reasons, I oppose NAFTA 2.0, and will vote against it in the Senate unless President Trump reopens the agreement and produces a better deal for America’s working families. The President grabs headlines railing against GM’s plans to axe thousands of American jobs in Ohio and Michigan – but his actual policies aren’t stopping them or others like them from continuing to put corporate profits ahead of American workers. It’s time for real change. We need a new approach to trade, and it should begin with a simple principle: our policies should not prioritize corporate profits over American paychecks. That should be true for NAFTA and true for every deal we cut.”
Ms. Marianne Williamson
“We need to protect the interests of American workers, consumers and citizens in any new NAFTA agreement. Before Congress approves the new NAFTA 2.0, we must strengthen both labor and environmental standards, and write them into the core of the agreement so they are enforceable. And we must limit the monopoly control of pharmaceutical companies, so medicines can be more affordable and accessible for people who need them.”
Citizens Trade Campaign (CTC) is a national coalition of labor, environmental, family farm, faith and consumer organizations working together to improve trade policy.