NAFTA Renegotiation Has Begun. Here’s what you need to know.

NAFTA is being renegotiated starting today.  The time has come when the three countries sit down to make changes to the agreement.  This round of negotiations, which is in Washington DC, will go ’til August 20.  The second round will be September 1-5 in Mexico City.  And on they’ll proceed, with the countries’ leaders wanting to finish up the agreement by end of year.

What needs your attention: we have demanded that the texts-agreed-upon after each round be made public, so we know what’s being negotiated in our name.  Rather than go this route, the Trump administration has said the text is classified.  NAFTA renegotiation is happening along the same practice of secrecy as the TPP.  A round of stakeholder engagement has been denied.  Meanwhile, hundreds of corporate lobbyists have been given special “cleared advisor” status that gives them privileged access to proposed texts and to the negotiators themselves.

What can you do?  Follow this link to demand transparency.

And watch this 5-minute video made by the Witness for Peace team in Mexico

It tells the reality, contrary to Trump’s narrative, of NAFTA’s devastating effect on Mexico.

Check back here for updates, including on the released statements of various organizations concerned with the direction of the negotiation and calling attention to Trump’s neglect so far of what working people have said needs to be in any new NAFTA.

In terms of organizational statements, to be thoroughly informative/helpful to you, here’s one pasted—that of Citizens Trade Campaign (CTC):

Statement on the Start of NAFTA Renegotiations
By Arthur Stamoulis, Executive Director, Citizens Trade Campaign

In the midst of the President’s reprehensible response to the racism, anti-Semitism and violence in Charlottesville, the business of his administration continues — with the potential for decades-long consequences to the economy, the environment and public health.

The public is being shut out of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) negotiations that formally began today.  Meanwhile, hundreds of corporate lobbyists have been given special “cleared advisor” status that gives them privileged access to proposed texts and to the negotiators themselves.

President Trump got into office in large part on his promise to make NAFTA better for working people, but his administration’s written renegotiation plan fails to take the bold steps needed to accomplish that goal.  Instead, it relies heavily on language from the failed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) corporate power grab.  If corporations are allowed to dictate the terms of NAFTA’s renegotiation, the pact could become even worse for working people throughout the United States, Mexico and Canada.

To put an end to rigged trade deals that enrich corporate elites at the expense of the majority, we need a transparent negotiating process that allows the public to comment on draft U.S. trade proposals before they’re formally introduced and to review composite texts at the end of each negotiating round.

Any NAFTA replacement deal and future trade agreement must also meet the following basic criteria:

• Eliminate the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) system, which promotes job offshoring and gives multinational corporations power to sue governments over environmental, health and other public interest protections before a tribunal of three corporate lawyers.  These lawyers can order U.S. taxpayers to pay corporations unlimited sums of money, including for the loss of expected future profits.

• Include strong, binding and enforceable labor and environmental standards, not the ineffective rules found in deals like the TPP.  Require that these standards are enforced before the new pact is finalized.

• Require all imported food, goods and services in the agreement to meet all domestic safety, consumer-right-to-know and environmental rules, and uphold nations’ rights to democratically establish domestic farm policies that ensure that farmers are paid fairly for their crops and livestock and that the public has ongoing access to safe, affordable food.

• End rules that waive Buy American and Buy Local policies by eliminating NAFTA’s procurement chapter.

• Remove terms that drive up the cost of life-saving medicines by giving pharmaceutical companies extended monopolies on drug patents.

While not a comprehensive list of necessary changes to a NAFTA replacement, any agreement that fails to meet these simple standards is unlikely to deserve the support of working people at home or abroad.

And, as we’ve said many times before, any NAFTA replacement deal must work for working families in all three countries.  We know that the NAFTA debate isn’t a question of the United States versus Mexico and Canada, but rather big corporations against the rest of us.

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