Republican President Donald Trump’s formal letter notifying lawmakers that he intends to renegotiate NAFTA, the 23-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement, doesn’t go far enough, the AFL-CIO and its allies say.
In particular, any new U.S.-Mexico-Canada free trade pact must ensure Mexico not only lives up to international labor rights standards, but raises its wages to livable levels, Congressional Democrats said.
The Economic Policy Institute calculates the trade pact cost up to one million U.S. industrial jobs since its enactment. On the campaign trail last year, Trump called NAFTA “a disaster,” but his letter says a lot less, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka notes.
“A good outcome is far from guaranteed” from the new bargaining, Trumka explained. “While the president has called NAFTA the worst trade deal in history, his administration has given conflicting signals as to its priorities, raising the prospect that some of NAFTA’s most problematic elements could remain intact.”
In a new NAFTA, “we must elevate and effectively enforce workers’ rights and environmental standards, eliminate excessive corporate privileges, prioritize good jobs and safeguard democracy,” Trumka said. “This is the standard we will use to judge any renegotiation ... We will continue to fight to fix a trade deal that wreaked havoc on working families.”
The Democrats concentrated on Mexico’s low wages, its failure to live up to universal labor standards and the impact on U.S. factory workers. They’ll also focus on “who is involved in the negotiations,” and want to kill its secret, pro-corporate trade courts, said Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., said.
“NAFTA’s ongoing damage to good paying jobs must end. This administration cannot rely on corporate advisors and lobbyists as past administrations have done. They must produce a rewritten NAFTA that puts working Americans ahead of corporations,” she added.