Roundup of Reactions from Civil Society to Trump’s Plans for NAFTA

Last week, you noticed that the Trump administration released its document of negotiating objectives for NAFTA 2.0.  Our post, as Oregon Fair Trade Campaign, about this is the most previous post on this site.  It is our statement of response to the Trump release.

But you might be wondering… what are other corners of civil society (and labor and the like) saying about the Trump release??  Well, let’s give you a thorough answer.  Many people have given their specific side of the larger story that the Trump plan falls unacceptably short.  (It’s not just Arthur Stamoulis of Citizens Trade Campaign whose statement we linked in the earlier post.)

People — speaking for their estimable and diverse organizations — who have weighed in include Richard Trumka, James P. Hoffa, Leo Gerard, Robert Martinez, Jr, Chris Shelton, Michael Brune, Bill Waren, Roger Johnson, Juliet Majot, and of course Lori Wallach.

Here are the statements/reactions in comprehensive, list form:

AFL-CIO
“Administration Falls Woefully Short in NAFTA Renegotiation Plans”

Teamsters
“Teamsters Disappointed by Lack of Specifics in New NAFTA Objectives”

USW
“Administration’s NAFTA Renegotiation Objectives Must Reverse Past Failures”
USW+Sierra Club (Gerard and Brune publish as co-author, op-ed contributors at Morning Consult)
“Wanted: A Trade Agenda That Values People Over Corporations”

IAM
“Working People Must Come First in NAFTA Negotiations”

CWA (their general release)
“New NAFTA Looks a Lot Like TPP”
CWA (Chris Shelton’s article as a guest commentator at CNBC)
“Trump’s new NAFTA plan is all wrong. Here’s what he needs to do to fix it”

UAW (Note: this is an exception — not actually a reaction to the Trump release, as, it predates it.  But it is stellar and from an important voice — Dennis Williams, president of United Auto Workers — so it’s included.)
“New NAFTA for Working Families”

Sierra Club
“Trump’s Promised NAFTA ‘Plan’ Keeps Workers and Communities in the Dark”

Friends of the Earth (their brief statement)
“Trump’s NAFTA Renegotiation Objectives Indicate Possible Stealth Attack on Public Health, Food, Agriculture”
Friends of the Earth (their full statement)
“NAFTA Renegotiation: A Stealth Attack on Food, Agriculture, Chemicals, and Biotechnology Safeguards”

National Farmers Union
“NAFTA Objectives a Missed Opportunity for Family Farmers”

Institute for Agriculture & Trade Policy
“NAFTA Renegotiation Objectives Fall Short for Farmers and the Planet”

National Family Farm Coalition
“Rural America Cannot Export Its Way Out of Financial Ruin”

Centro de los Derechos del Migrante
“Migrant Workers Left Out of NAFTA”

Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch
“NAFTA Plan Does Not Describe Promised Transformation of NAFTA to Prioritize Working People”

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The Trump administration releases NAFTA objectives. Here’s how we respond. Follow the link to submit comment.

Yesterday, the USTR released the awaited (eighteen-page) document outlining its negotiating objectives for when — in thirty days — the U.S. is at the table with Mexico and Canada, to redo NAFTA.  You can see the USTR’s document here.  Our petition for telling the President and Congress that Trump’s plan falls short, to the point of being unacceptable, is here, and please submit your name.  Also, find Citizens Trade Campaign’s statement in response to the release, on their site, here.

The Trump administration continually signals to us that it has a values problem and a competence problem.  Trump’s politics are not working people’s values.  And the blame that he cast during the campaign for folks’ economic hardship was leveled at Mexico, and others, who are getting a better “deal” than we are, supposedly.  Trump’s story of grievance missed the mark of an authentic critique of NAFTA.

He is a con-man on trade (at least, so far).  The TPP and NAFTA to Donald-Trump-the-Candidate were unacceptable, disastrous deals.  Yet given the chance to renegotiate NAFTA, the Trump administration has inserted TPP language in the NAFTA objectives.  The new NAFTA negotiating objectives are not an improvement over TPP on labor and environment — the provisions there in TPP having been rejected as inadequate by us (and civil society broadly).

Human rights as an objective is not in the administration’s document, which is a step backward from Congress’s 2015 Trade Promotion Authority bill,  which chanced to use the phrase in one place.  Congress’s 2015 Trade Promotion Authority bill passed; it is what we are living under (and it is commonly known as the Fast Track rules) and it was originally the table-setter, procedurally, for the TPP (and other trade agreements to follow).  (So, Trump’s “new” NAFTA is literally more of the same.)

The administration’s release is vague.  It is specific only in one place: in its pushing for the elimination of NAFTA’s Chapter 19, which instituted review panels to help enforce anti-dumping.  The fact that the removal of a chapter was mentioned, but it was not NAFTA’s Chapter 11, is a serious point.  It means Trump’s intent is to keep the ISDS system in place, whereby corporations can sue governments if the governments have laws on the books that the corporations perceive block their profit-making.

In total, Trump here presents a plan ripe for corporate expansionism and not a deal that was demanded by (and, in a sense promised to) working families.  It is unoriginal, it is business-as-usual, and it is not welcome news for those of us taking a firm stance for people and planet.  There will need to be — now more than ever — real transparency in this process, and people waking up to Trump’s hollowness in his promises to make things “a lot better.”

Our petition demands transparency, in addition to insisting on seeing people’s real needs put ahead of corporate designs.

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NAFTA news, all the time: Small businesses line up in opposition to ISDS section of NAFTA

This comes from Green America.  They announce today that 100 small businesses sent a letter to President Trump urging him to side with small business in its opposition to ISDS’s presence in the North American Free Trade Agreement.  Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) is the provision in NAFTA that allows corporations to sue governments (and therefore claim settlements) over their perceived lost profits due to the regulatory actions of those governments.

It makes corporations freer to offshore U.S. jobs and it straightforwardly attacks the institution of democracy, in that laws that a voting public sets in place are vulnerable to being overruled by a tribunal of trade lawyers.  They operate in secret and by and large serve the model—the free-trade, NAFTA model—which empowered them and which invented this dangerous sort of corporate power-grab.

Small businesses know this hurts our communities and lays bare the fact that these free trade agreements are for the largest multinational companies, not the rest of us.  Thus it is necessary that while NAFTA is in renegotiation, ISDS be targeted for removal from the text.

Find Green America’s announcement here.  The letter signers are members of the American Sustainable Business Council and Green America’s Green Business Network.  The text of the letter is here.

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Portland metro area: Attend the NAFTA Town Hall


The NAFTA politics — where do they stand?  Who will be the winners of a NAFTA renegotiation?

Could it be labor and environment and community groups?  Only if we show up.

Get answers to these questions, and join forces — for all the reasons that the NAFTA legacy cannot go on — to move us toward greater global justice in this unique 21st-century moment, of looking hard at a late-20th-century trade-policy paradigm.

…with your presence at this event

NAFTA Town Hall
Thursday, August 10 at 7:30 pm
@ AFSCME Council 75: 6025 E. Burnside St., Portland, Oregon

To attend, fill out our online RSVP, which is here http://bit.ly/2ufeinZ

You can also find it on Facebook here https://www.facebook.com/events/113221029312583/

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The Guatemala CAFTA case that clarifies what we’re fighting for, in NAFTA renegotiation

The United States had been in nine years of litigation against the government of Guatemala in the first-ever labor dispute settlement case under the provisions of CAFTA-DR.  Guatemala was in trouble for failure to enforce its labor laws.  The case closed this past Monday when the panel ruled in favor of Guatemala.  Why?  Not because Guatemala had met some standard of labor protection.  It had not.  The panel ruled in favor of Guatemala because CAFTA’s labor-protection enforcement mechanism requires that the party bringing the labor grievance prove that such failure was affecting trade.  This bar proved too high a reach for U.S. litigators — at least the way the CAFTA system works.

This is a look at a broken (and shamefully long) enforcement process.  Labor and human-rights groups took note, and say this is exactly the inadequacy that cannot be repeated in how we move forward with NAFTA.  This point is critical to raise at this time, because NAFTA is in renegotiation, and its current labor rules are toothless and part of a side agreement, not the text itself.  Here are a couple quotes from labor and human rights interests, making this point.  (Sources for this post are here and here; the spokespersons were witnesses at the recent hearings in Washington, DC, which were for input to guide the priorities of the USTR in the negotiations.)

“Indeed, there’s no clearer proof about the ineffectiveness of the current language than the final report of the Guatemala panel that was just released. . . .  [NAFTA] is the opportunity to get it right.”  Owen Herrnstadt, chief of staff and director of trade and globalization at the Machinists

“Based on what we’ve seen under CAFTA in the Guatemala case, the trade-related standard that we’ve seen develop over the past few years has created a barrier to accessing dispute resolution which really renders feckless the labor action plans that have been created and all of the efforts to promote labor rights, particularly for migrant workers.”  Elizabeth Mauldin, policy director at Centro de los Derechos del Migrante

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Action in DC delivers 100,000 petitions, for People’s priorities on NAFTA

Today, in D.C., the U.S. International Trade Commission is hearing testimony as input in the NAFTA renegotiation. These hearings are part of how the United States Trade Representative will be guided as to what positions to take (and priorities to hold) in the negotiations. Here’s the thing: the People – in the form of: workers and consumer, environmental, labor, and human-rights groups – have been speaking up, and demanding that their voice be heard in this process, because the public sees through the false promises of the NAFTA model and knows the danger of NAFTA as a deal advantageous to multinational corporations, to the detriment of the rest of us.

So today outside the hearings, this coalition, which derailed the TPP, delivered more than 100,000 petitions to the federal government, on top of the 50,000 public comments that were submitted in the USTR’s public-comment period.  You should still sign the petition, HERE, if you haven’t.

The petition and many of the comments focuses on two themes. First, if corporate elites are allowed to dictate how NAFTA is renegotiated, the agreement could become more damaging for working families and the environment. Second, modest tweaks would not stop NAFTA’s ongoing damage, much less deliver on President Donald Trump’s promises for a deal that will create American jobs and raise wages.

Advocating for a NAFTA renegotiation that benefits working people in all three countries, a diverse coalition of consumer, labor and digital organizations coordinated the collection of petition signatures challenging the Trump administration to:

  • Make the negotiating process transparent;
  • Eliminate NAFTA’s foreign investor protections and investor-state dispute settlement, which promote job offshoring and empower corporations to sue the U.S. government for uncapped sums before tribunals of three corporate lawyers;
  • Add tough and strongly enforced labor, wage and environmental standards;
  • Ensure imported food, goods and services meet U.S. consumer and environmental standards;
  • Cut rules that waive Buy American and Buy Local policies and offshore U.S. tax dollars; and
  • Eliminate rules that drive up the price of lifesaving medicines by giving pharmaceutical companies extended monopolies to avoid generic competition.

So there’s your update. Stray strong in this struggle.

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The NAFTA countdown. The NAFTA struggle.

negotiation-countdownThis graphic shows the timeline on how NAFTA renegotiation will proceed. The period for submitting public comments to the USTR ends THIS MONDAY, June 12. Get them in. Here’s a LINK to a form by which you can send language that demands putting good-paying jobs and healthy communities ahead of corporate interests.

 

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NAFTA is being renegotiated. And there is a brief, important window for Public Comments. (Speak Up.)

two NAFTA graphics from GTW combined png

President Trump’s intentions for NAFTA are in motion.  The “renegotiation” of NAFTA will go down this summer.  Right now, the new United States Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer is accepting public comments on how the renegotiation should take place (… what it should prioritize).  This comment period ends June 12, making this a critical time to be heard.  Send him some language on what the possibility of a people- and planet-centered North American Free Trade Agreement looks like.  

For almost a quarter century, NAFTA has been enriching corporate elites at the expense of working people and the environment in the United States, Mexico and Canada.  NAFTA’s forthcoming renegotiation should be used to stop the pact’s ongoing damage and to create a replacement that puts people over profits.

Unfortunately, many of the same corporations behind NAFTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) view the re-opening of NAFTA as a way to further expand their own corporate power agenda.

It is time to TAKE ACTION and Submit public comments on NAFTA’s renegotiation now demanding a transparent process that puts human needs ahead of corporate greed.

We need a NAFTA replacement that, among other things, includes strong, binding and enforceable labor and environmental standards; that requires imported food to meet domestic safety standards; that defends “Buy America” and “Buy Local” public procurement preferences; and that eliminates investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions that promote job offshoring and give multinational corporations power to sue governments over environmental, health and other public interest protections before tribunals of three corporate lawyers.

In sum, speak up.  And be ready — to struggle for a trade agreement that would live up to Trump’s promise of something that is “a lot better” for working people.

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You’ve Stopped the TPP — Now What?

BY CTC – JANUARY 5, 2017 POSTED IN: BREAKING ISSUES

Picket_FairDealorNoDealThank you.  Your hard work — coupled with that of millions of other grassroots activists across the United States and the world — is what pulled the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) out of the shadows and derailed the TPP corporate power grab.

TPP negotiations were concluded in 2015 and the deal was signed in the first week of February 2016. It would have been approved by Congress shortly thereafter if the votes were there to pass it.  It was your work that ensured the TPP was a non-starter in Congress last year, and that it has remained that way ever since.  

Looking ahead, Donald Trump has promised to formally withdraw from the TPP on his first day in office.  Saying he won’t attempt to revive a deal that you’ve already ensured has no chance of passing Congress isn’t enough.

The incoming President’s real test on trade isn’t what he does with the already defunct TPP.  Instead, it’s whether he announces an end to negotiations now underway to establish more TPP-style pacts — the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) and the U.S.-China Bilateral Investment Treaty. And, whether he replaces NAFTA and other existing pacts with trade policies that put working people, the environment and healthy communities ahead of corporate profits.

TAKE ACTION:  Now that you’ve killed the TPP — help ensure that the corporate interests behind it aren’t allowed to hijack the trade agenda in 2017.

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