Oregon’s resources for what we’re saying on NAFTA

This post is for spreading some new resources.  The image below is our ORFTC fact sheet on the NAFTA campaign made in-house.  Further, we have these exciting things to tell you about:

Public Citizen (and their entities Global Trade Watch and ReplaceNAFTA.org) did some fabulous research, and you can find it at this site: https://www.citizen.org/our-work/globalization-and-trade/50-reasons-we-cannot-afford-tpp’s-expansion-nafta-model

All 50 states now have two-pager fact sheets on the costs of NAFTA, state-specific.  Here’s the link for Oregon’s.

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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. http://org.salsalabs.com/o/1034/p/dia/action4/common/public/?action_KEY=22171

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.

Posted in Free Trade Agreements, NAFTA, president | Comments Off on NAFTA Renegotiation Has Begun. Here’s what you need to know.

Our event has a new flyer. It’s not just the flyer. What Trump intends to do with #NAFTA warrants your attention.


RSVP to indicate your presence at this, here http://bit.ly/2ufeinZ

Oregon Fair Trade invites you to get active and get educated in the (really hot right now) issue of jobs and trade.  The Trump administration is taking up a rewriting of NAFTA — the North American Free Trade Agreement.  What will NAFTA 2.0 look like?  Signs point to a renegotiation that may only tinker around the edges of the NAFTA model, a model that has wrought damage of 23 years.

Our event — a NAFTA Town Hall, in Portland on Thursday, August 10 at 7:30 at AFSCME Hall — will educate on the unfolding NAFTA politics and will examine the legacy of NAFTA for Oregonians.  We will hear of the NAFTA-enabled corporate behavior that costs, in livelihoods, on both sides of borders.  We will hear from Portland workers, who make Oreos (among other products) for Nabisco, who suffered a work stoppage — and whose jobs are in peril — as part of a large trend of that company’s offshoring.

Get in on the uniting around this issue (and the activism that it requires), from many sides of NAFTA’s impacts — job loss, downward pressure on wages, public health and safety, climate change acceleration, migration, and others.

NAFTA Town Hall – After 23 Years.
Thursday, August 10 at 7:30pm
AFSCME Council 75 (6025 E Burnside St.)
in Portland, Oregon

Use our RSVP link, at http://bit.ly/2ufeinZ
Find this event on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/events/113221029312583/

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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:

“Administration Falls Woefully Short in NAFTA Renegotiation Plans”

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

“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”

“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.

Posted in NAFTA, president | Comments Off on The Trump administration releases NAFTA objectives. Here’s how we respond. Follow the link to submit comment.

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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