As First NAFTA Round Opens In Secrecy, Digital Rights Groups Fear Another TPP

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By Jeremy Malcolm for EFF – The opening round of a series of negotiations over a proposed revised North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) began this week in Washington, D.C. between trade representatives from the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Already it is clear that the office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) has ignored our specific recommendations (to say nothing of USTR Robert Lighthizer’s personal promises) about making the negotiations more open and transparent. Once again, following the failed model of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the USTR will be keeping the negotiating texts secret, and in an actual regression from the TPP will be holding no public stakeholder events alongside the first round. This may or may not set a precedent for future rounds, that will rotate between the three countries every few weeks thereafter, with a scheduled end date of mid-2018. Although EFF has been keeping an open mind about the agreement until we have a better idea of what it will contain, the secrecy of its first negotiation round augurs poorly for what is to come. Already, the usual copyright lobbyists have descended upon the negotiations, sending a letter to the USTR this week which directly opposes the inclusion of a “fair use” copyright exception in the agreement, as EFF had suggested.

Thousands Of Mexicans March To Scrap NAFTA, As Government Fights To Save It

Union workers and farmers protest as NAFTA renegotiation begins in Washington, D.C., in Mexico City, Mexico August 16, 2017. The placards read " FTA hurts, Mexico better without FTA". Carlos Jasso

By Daina Beth Solomon for Reuters – MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – While Mexican government negotiators fought tooth and nail to save the North American Free Trade Agreement during talks in Washington, thousands of Mexican farmers and workers took to the streets on Wednesday demanding the deal be scrapped. Carrying banners that read “No to the FTA,” and decorated with images of the distinctive hairstyles of U.S. President Donald Trump and Mexican counterpart Enrique Pena Nieto, the protesters said the 1994 deal had devastated Mexican farms. “We are against the treaty and the renegotiation because it has not benefited the country,” said university union spokesman Carlos Galindo, reflecting views widely held in the early years of the trade pact. In a sign of that mistrust, on Jan. 1 1994 the Zapatista guerrilla army launched an armed uprising opposing free trade to mark the first day of NAFTA. The fervor has faded and most Mexicans, including leading leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador who will run for president next year, now broadly support a deal which has led to job growth, especially in the auto manufacturing sector.

10 Ways That Trump’s New NAFTA Threatens People And The Planet

Trump meets with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto at the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, in July 2017. Trump is pushing to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement among their countries and Canada. Photo via NPR.

By William Waren for Friends of the Earth – During his campaign for president, Donald Trump demonized the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), calling it “the worst trade deal” and making false assurances that he would rework NAFTA, and other trade deals, to protect the American people. As the process to renegotiate NAFTA begins, Trump’s rhetoric and actions strongly suggest that he plans to step up his war on the planet. Trump’s NAFTA “re-do” is highly likely to reflect many elements of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and specifically, the portions of the TPP that would undercut environmental regulations. The Administration’s statement on July 17 of its NAFTA negotiating objectives reinforces concerns that Trump plans to use a new NAFTA to hamstring effective environmental regulation across the board and accelerate global warming. When we compare the evils of Trump’s new trade deal against reality of our current economy, the American people should be extremely concerned about the future of our environment. As trade renegotiations begin in Washington, D.C., on August 16, we compiled a list of ten ways this process endangers our environment.

Thousands Of Mexicans Hold Protest Against NAFTA

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By Staff of Bilaterals – Mexican farmers and workers have staged a mass rally in the capital to voice their opposition to the North American Free Trade Agreement, commonly known as NAFTA, with the United States and Canada. The protesters, who numbered up to 10,000 people, took to the streets in Mexico City on Monday, saying the trilateral trade deal was ruining Mexican farmers’ and workers’ livelihoods. The protesters said that they wanted the government to leave the agriculture sector out of the new NAFTA free trade agreement, accusing Mexico City of failing to support the peasant farmers. President Enrique Peña Nieto, the protesters said, has broken the promises he had made to the farmers and workers in regard to land and labor reforms The protest comes as NAFTA re-negotiations are scheduled to take place from August 16 to 20 in Washington. Reports suggest around two million Mexican farmers have lost their land under the current NAFTA conditions. US-imported products make up nearly half of all of the food consumed in Mexico. During his election campaign, US President Donald Trump vowed to either renegotiate or scrap the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement. Trump described NAFTA as the worst trade deal the US had ever signed. He blamed the three-nation deal for the outsourcing of thousands of American jobs to Mexico and China.

Do Corporate Media Need To Lie To Promote Trade Deals?

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By Dean Baker for FAIR – I understand people can have reasonable differences of opinion on trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), but why is it that the proponents have to insist, with zero evidence, that not doing the deal was an economic disaster? Yes, I know the political argument, which seemed to arise late in the game, that US standing in the world has collapsed because we didn’t follow through on the TPP. But let’s just stick with the economics. Politico (8/7/17) ran a lengthy piece saying that the US pullout from the TPP undermined the hopes for a revival of rural America. It cited as evidence a report from the United States International Trade Commission that projected the deal would have increased agricultural output by 0.5 percent when fully phased in, 15 years from now. Seriously, folks, a 0.5 percent increase in output is going to save rural America? That’s three months of normal growth; who are you trying to fool? The New York Times (8/8/17) joined the act with a news article that started out by pointing to the costs from the Trump administration’s ambiguities on trade policy.

NAFTA Renegotiation Objectives Indicate Possible Stealth Attack On Public Health, Food, Agriculture

Flickr/Tim & Selena Middleton

By Audrey Fox for Friends of the Earth – WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer released the Trump Administration’s objectives for renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Trade promotion authority legislation requires the President to provide “a detailed summary” of the objectives of trade negotiations 30 days before negotiations begin. Friends of the Earth Senior Trade Analyst Bill Waren issued the following response: Donald Trump demonized NAFTA and the TPP during his presidential campaign and made assurances he would rework trade deals to protect the American people. Now, it appears that Trump has modified his message. Since taking office, Trump has shown repeatedly that he plans to “re-do” NAFTA to benefit corporations. Trump’s statement indicates he plans to step up his war on public health and the planet by modeling NAFTA’s provisions related to environmental regulation on the TPP. These objectives appear to set the stage for a stealth attack on strong regulation of food, agriculture, chemicals, and biotechnology.

Stop Trump From Making NAFTA Even Worse

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By Ethan Earle for In These Times – Many on the Left have been deeply critical of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) since before it was fast-tracked into law by former President Bill Clinton in 1994. Now, President Donald Trump’s current plan to renegotiate NAFTA is poised to make the massive trade deal even worse. In late May, a loose coalition of civil society groups gathered in Mexico City to discuss this upcoming renegotiation. Participants included the AFL-CIO, Canadian Labour Congress and over one hundred other labor, environmental, and immigrant rights organizations from across Mexico, the United States and Canada. The meeting produced a joint declaration opposing a Trump-led NAFTA renegotiation and marked the kickoff of the latest international campaign against free-trade deals that benefit corporations and political elites at the expense of workers, communities and our shared environment. NAFTA’s legacy is marred by lost jobs, lower wages, increased inequality and a litany of environmentally destructive practices. While the people who gathered in Mexico City have long opposed NAFTA for its pro-corporate bent, a consensus emerged that President Trump and his team are cooking up something even worse. Two questions follow from this judgment: What can we do to stop Trump, and how can we use the moment to challenge the powerful interests that he represents?

We’re Winning In The Fight Against Corporate Courts And Toxic Trade Deals

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By Staff of War On Want – In recent weeks two EU court rulings and a decision taken by Ecuador to scrap its investment treaties have dealt a heavy blow to secretly negotiated, corporate trade deals. The events have proved a major boost to social movements resisting these toxic deals in the UK and around the world, as part of a wider fight for trade justice and democracy. Growing opposition to ‘corporate courts’. The decisions have severely dented the deeply undemocratic investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) or ‘corporate court’ system, under which corporations can sue governments for lost future profits. Corporate courts are effectively taxpayer-funded risk insurance for corporations. Time and again countries around the world have been sued by corporations for lost future profits after taking action to ban nuclear power, safeguard the human right to water or stop harmful mining operations. In response, a broad opposition to corporate courts has built up across Southern countries, civil society groups, among trade unions, academics, progressive political parties and UN independent experts. EU states must have a say. In the midst of election campaigning here in the UK, it’s been easy for these somewhat technical stories to pass under the radar.

Trump Trade Pact Pushing Natural Gas To China

Jonny White/flickr/CC

By Audrey Fox for Friends of the Earth – WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Trump administration announced today it has reached an agreement to promote natural gas exports and to lower food safety standards related to Chinese cooked chicken and similar products. In response Friends of the Earth Senior Political Strategist Ben Schreiber issued the following statement: It’s no surprise that Donald Trump is yet again sacrificing American’s health for fossil fuel profits. Increasing natural gas exports means more fracking that will poison our water and add fuel to our ever-worsening climate crisis. Trump continues to push the dirty fossil fuels of the past as the rest of the world moves towards clean renewable energy.

Trump And Trade

(Photo: Andrew Bardwell / Flickr)

By John Feffer for Foreign Policy In Focus – If you want to understand why Donald Trump has been changing his position on trade, one place to start is pork. I’m not talking about the pork that goes into congressional sausage making. I’m talking the real stuff, the kind that comes from Smithfield Foods, the Virginia-based company responsible for one out of every four American pigs. As a result of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) — which Ronald Reagan dreamed of, George H.W. Bush negotiated, and Bill Clinton signed into law in 1993 — Smithfield Foods was able to make significant headway into the Mexican market. U.S. sales of pork to Mexico went from under $200 million in 1994 to nearly $1.2 billion in 2013. Smithfield employs 50,000 people. It makes a ton of money. And it doesn’t want the United States to pull out of NAFTA, because then it would see a major decline in sales. Mexico, after all, was the largest pork purchaser by volume in 2015. Also, after NAFTA went into effect, Smithfield purchased a Mexican operation, CGM, that became a cornerstone of its global empire on the basis of cheaper labor and laxer environmental regulations south of the border.

NAFTA Needs To Be Replaced, Not Renegotiated

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By John E. Peck and Jim Goodman for Family Farm Defenders – The North American Free Trade Agreement must be replaced with a transparent trade agreement that ensures: farmers in all three nations receive fair prices for their production, consumers are guaranteed the right to know the content and origin of their food and strong environmental protections are put in place to protect the sustainability of rural communities. While the current structure of NAFTA has increased trade between Canada, Mexico and the United States, farm profit margins did not increase. Multi-national grain traders made huge profits dumping subsidized US corn on Mexico, crushing much of Mexico’s farm economy to the point that Mexican Catholic Bishops said that NAFTA was leading to the “cultural death” of their nation. Trade agreements should promote fair trade that that supports farmers of all countries involved, not just the financial interests of multi-national agribusiness corporations. To give just one recent example of how rural communities suffer from reckless trade policies, on April 1stGrassland Dairy Products, the nation’s largest butter maker, informed 75 Wisconsin dairy farmers that their milk would no longer be needed by May since Canadian buyers had cancelled contracts to import one million pounds of milk per day.

Canadians Say: Reject TPP, Transform Trade

From foodandwaterwatch.org

By Meghan Sali for Open Media – Report crowdsourced from nearly 28,000 people finds that Canadians want to withdraw from the TPP, and ensure real transparency and engagement for future trade deals. March 14, 2017 – “Next time, consult us!” – that’s the clear message coming from Canadians on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). A new report published today finds that Canadians want to withdraw from the TPP, and for the government to ensure much greater transparency and public engagement for future trade deals. The report is published as trade ministers gather in Chile to discuss the future of trans-Pacific trade, following the withdrawal of the U.S. from the TPP.

Friends Of Earth Calls For Resistance To Trump & Abe Trade Talks

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By Erich Pica for The Huffington Post – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe met with Donald Trump for a two-day summit in Washington, D.C. on February 10 and at Mar-a-lago, Trump’s golf resort in Florida, on February 11. They met to iron out the trade and economic relationship between the world’s first and third largest economies. The backdrop was the Trump plan for a bilateral U.S.-Japan trade agreement that would cement the two countries’ economic relationship now that the U.S. has withdrawn from negotiations for a multilateral Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal with Japan and eleven other countries. The two right-wing and nationalistic heads of state announced after the conclusion of Friday’s formal talks that they had agreed to establish a formal “bilateral dialogue framework” on trade and related economic and security issues. The “dialogue” negotiations will be co-chaired by U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence and Japanese Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso.

Trump’s Bad Deal On Trade

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By Josh Hoxie for Other Words – Candidate Donald Trump promised to renegotiate free trade agreements that hurt American workers. In his first week in office, he made good on that promise by withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade pact negotiated by the Obama administration. Yet in the same week, he unleashed a torrent of policies just as bad, if not worse, for workers than the trade deal itself. Trump was right about one thing: The TPP was a bad deal. But while he convinced his supporters that trade deals are rigged against them, he never did say who does the rigging: big business.

TISA Documents Leaked, Negotiators Still Have Problems

Our World Is Not For Sale | 29 January 2017

By Staff of Bilaterals – A swathe of new documents from the last round of Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) negotiations in November 2016 involving 23 parties (representing 50 countries) was posted on http://www.bilaterals.org/?+-tisa-+ today. The documents include the core text and annexes on telecommunications, e-commerce, localisation provisions, restraints on domestic regulation, temporary movement of services labour, state-owned enterprises, maritime, road and air transportation, and delivery services. Many of these documents have shading that shows what is – and is not – agreed. At an initial reading the documents confirm five things…