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Council campaigner Sujata Dey presents at trinational webinar on NAFTA

Council of Canadians trade campaigner Sujata Dey presented our concerns about the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) on a Trade Justice Alliance trinational webinar on February 26.

The outreach for the webinar highlighted, “US President Donald Trump is a longtime critic of NAFTA and has now issued an executive order to renegotiate it. Reforming or abolishing NAFTA has also long been a goal of the trade justice movement. But given Trump’s pro-fossil fuel, pro-deregulation, anti-Mexican politics, our idea on what needs to be fixed about NAFTA likely differ sharply. To understand progressive priorities for NAFTA reform/abolition, it’s important to first understand the harm that NAFTA has done to all three member nations. On this webinar, experts and organizers from Canada, Mexico, and the United States will discuss the harm that NAFTA has done to jobs and wages, the environment, human rights, and consider possible fixes.”

To watch the 2-hour webinar, please click here. The 24-minute presentation by Dey starts at the 15:23 mark in the video.

The Council of Canadians argues that NAFTA has had a negative impact on workers and the environment in all three countries.

The NAFTA at Seven: Its Impact on Workers in All Three Nations report by analysts in the United States, Mexico, and Canada found that 766,030 jobs had been lost in the US since NAFTA’s implementation, low-wage maquiladora employment in Mexico grew from 60,000 jobs in 1975 to 1.3 million in 2000, and in Canada imports destroyed more jobs than exports created (the net destruction of jobs had reached 276,000 by 1997).

In 2014, the Council of Canadians jointly released a 20-page report titled NAFTA: 20 Years of Costs to Communities and the Environment with the Sierra Club, the Institute for Policy Studies, and Red Mexicana de Acción Frente al Libre Comercio (the Mexican Network of Action Against Free Trade).

That report concluded, “NAFTA ushered in a new model of trade that reduced the ability of governments to regulate in the interest of the public and the environment. NAFTA cemented and expanded changes to Mexico’s agricultural sector that impoverished and displaced millions of peasant farmers while increasing North America’s reliance on chemical and water-intensive agricultural practices. It increased mining activity and trade in fossil fuels while it decreased the ability of governments to put in place policies to regulate such polluting industries. And, NAFTA’s environmental side agreement was far too weak and the commission responsible for enforcing the side agreement far too under-resourced to make any meaningful difference.”

And in his FTA at 25, NAFTA at 20 overview, then-Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives executive director Bruce Campbell highlighted, “Contrary to assurances given Canadians prior to the FTA/NAFTA, big business lobbied hard to reduce both program spending and taxes in the name of competitiveness. Unemployment insurance, health and education transfers, social assistance and housing programs etc. were ‘harmonized downward’ toward US levels. Governments, either willingly or grudgingly, reduced taxes.”

Campbell concluded, “The FTA/NAFTA failed to meet the fundamental test of any major policy initiative—to better the lives of its citizens.”

To send a message to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau outlining your concerns about NAFTA, please click on this online action alert.