By Victor Suarez and Alejandro Villamar for Foreign Policy in Focus. Some politicians and “experts” still don’t understand — or don’t want to understand — that a great deal of popular discontent in the United States, Mexico, and Canada alike is rooted in undemocratic policies that have produced inequality, unemployment, migration, food dependency, and pollution. NAFTA isn’t the only factor — but it’s one of the most powerful. The reason is that NAFTA was never designed for the development of our peoples through trade, but instead to advance the narrow corporate interests of multi-national firms and the governments that serve them. In the case of Mexico, it was negotiated and signed by an authoritarian government that only served the interests of large Mexican and global corporations, and which turned its back on productive sectors linked to the domestic market.
By Jeff Faux for Quartz – Donald Trump’s promise to renegotiate or tear-up the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement was a major reason why he won the support of working class voters in the Midwestern states that were crucial to his election. It’s also a trap. As US president-elect, Trump quickly scored some points with his Rust Belt constituency after claiming to get the Carrier and Ford corporations to reduce the number of jobs they are sending to Mexico. He also clearly exaggerated the effect of his personal persuasiveness: Carrier was moved by a $7 million tax break from the state of Indiana and Ford might well have made its decision before Trump intervened. In any event, as the Wall Street Journal reports, other companies, such as Rexnord, Caterpillar, and Nucor continue to send jobs south of the border. Renegotiating NAFTA is therefore the first real test of Trump’s pledge to create good new jobs by negotiating better trade deals.
By Pete Dolack for Left Voice – Now that the new Trump administration has officially pulled the United States out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and has announced an intention to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, it might appear as if the global neoliberal order has suffered a pair of blows. We nonetheless can be forgiven for harboring strong doubts that much, if anything, in the realm of global trade will change. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has faced strong popular opposition for years, thanks to the work of activists on both sides of the Pacific, North and South, who labored to drag this secret corporate power grab into the light of day.
By Raul Burbano for Common Frontiers – The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is a trilateral trade agreement between Canada, United States and Mexico that went into effect January 1, 1994. It is the largest agreement of its kind in the world and was implemented in the face of considerable opposition in all three countries. In the twenty-three years since NAFTA was implemented we have witnessed an unprecedented increase in profits and rights of multinational corporations, underscoring a widening economic inequality in North America. The social and economic consequences on working class people, across all three countries, has been devastating in terms of increased poverty, weakened labour rights and environmental protections, fueling a “race to the bottom” in living standards
By Stan Sorscher for The Huffington Post – The 2016 elections threw a bucket of cold water into the face of free-trade orthodoxy. It’s no surprise that voters in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere are deeply discouraged by decades of failed promises of boon from establishment leaders. The real surprise is, what took us so long? We need a new approach to globalization that does as much for workers and the environment as it does for global investors. Everyone I know wants trade and globalization. However, we have managed globalization badly. Our failed “neoliberal” approach has been to manage globalization through trade deals, written by and for the interests of global companies.
By Kshana Sawant for Counterpunch. Hundreds of thousands of people have already poured into the streets since November 8th. On the night of the election result, my organization, Socialist Alternative began to organize protests around the country for the next day. Hundreds of thousands of people have already poured into the streets since November 8th. On the night of the election result, my organization, Socialist Alternative began to organize protests around the country for the next day. More than 50,000 answered that call: in Seattle, New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and Oakland. Many more protests have followed, as well as dozens of student walkouts, including 5,000 Seattle students on Monday alone. Our movement will need to be independent of both major political parties. The Democratic Party cannot be relied on to stop Trump, anymore now than during the election. And to truly defeat the right, we will need to build our own mass party – a party of, by and for the 99% – completely free of corporate cash and corporate influence. We have a historic responsibility to fight back against this administration. On January 20th and 21st, activists will be organizing protests and student walkouts across the country. Hundreds of thousands will gather for the Women’s March on Washington DC and to “Occupy Inauguration,” to send a message to the new president that there is no space whatsoever for his bigoted agenda in America.
By Stan Sorscher for The Huffington Post – I’m in favor of trade. I don’t know anyone opposed to trade. A better question is, “How should we manage globalization?” We’ve lost trust in our approach to globalization. The Brexit vote in Europe was a vote of no confidence. Millions of voters in our presidential campaigns send a similar message. Globalization is not working for us.
By Karen Hansen-Kuhn for Institute for Agriculture & Trade Policy. Public opposition to free trade agreements, like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), that serve to increase inequality and concentrate corporate power has reached a loud crescendo. We got to this point through years of effort by thousands of civil society groups around the world, reaching out to educate people on the likely impacts of the very specific rules embedded in those documents, as well as defining alternatives for our economies, environments and food systems. That debate was never simply about trade; it was about decisions on the kinds of economies and societies we choose to accept. NAFTA displaced millions of corn producers and the TPP would threaten the interests of Mexican coffee and dairy producers, as well as requiring adherence to intellectual property rules that lock in corporate control over seeds. Removing those obstacles by defeating the TPP is a necessary first step. Building the alternatives through agroecology will be a vital element of a new approach moving forward.
By Michael Levitin for Occupy – When the NAFTA nations – United States, Canada and Mexico – meet Wednesday for the annual Three Amigos Summit in Ottawa, climate change and clean energy are expected to dominate the agenda. However, a curiously timed $15 billion lawsuit launched last Friday by TransCanada, which is using NAFTA to sue the U.S. government for its rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline, has undercut the very same climate ideals professed by the North American nations.
By Dave Johnson for Campaign for America’s Future – A Canadian corporation is suing the us because we wouldn’t let them build a pipeline across our country (seizing people’s property along the way) so they could sell oil to China. They can do this because we signed a trade agreement that places corporate rights above our democracy. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) would increase by an order of magnitude the companies that can sue us for hurting their profits by protecting the environment, consumers, public health and small businesses.
By Chris Hedges for Truth Dig – The neoliberal ideology that is the engine of corporate capitalism spews its poison around the globe. Constitutions are rewritten by judicial fiat in a mockery of democracy. Laws and regulations that impede corporate exploitation are abolished. Corporations orchestrate legally sanctioned tax boycotts. Free-trade deals destroy small farmers and businesses along with labor unions and government agencies designed to protect the public from contaminated air, water and food and from usurious creditors and lenders.
By Richard (RJ) Eskow for The Huffington Post – A new study confirms what many activists have suspected for a long time: The private courts set up by international “trade” deals heavily favor billionaires and giant corporations, and they do so at the expense of governments and people. Smaller companies and less-wealthy individuals don’t benefit nearly as much from these private courts as the extremely rich and powerful do. Other interested parties – whether they’re governments, children, working people, or the planet itself – are unable to benefit from these private courts at all.
By David Swanson for American Herald Tribune – Former U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, and others who had seen all or part of the text of theTrans-Pacific Partnership, used to say that just making it public would stop it dead. But that depends on a number of factors, I think. The TPP has now been made public. Twelve nations have just gone ahead and signed it. And their hope is to see their governments ratify it during the next two years. The destruction wreaked by NAFTA can be seen in thousands of hollowed out towns across the United States, if you trust the bridges to get you there and are willing to risk drinking the water.