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NAFTA talks likely to resume on April 8 in Washington, DC

What’s on the horizon with the 8th round of NAFTA talks tentatively set to begin three weeks from now?

Looming April 30 deadline

BNN reports, “Mexico’s Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said if no deal to rework NAFTA could be struck by April 30, then the new political complexion of the region would cast doubt on how incoming lawmakers would view it in Mexico and the United States. …[That’s because] the regular session of Congress in Mexico ends on April 30, and the country will elect a new president in July who takes office at the start of December. The United States will hold mid-term congressional elections in November.”

Trump’s continued ‘rip it up’ rhetoric

That article adds, “On Wednesday, Trump reiterated that he thought it best to kill NAFTA and strike a new deal. ‘Let’s start all over again … because the best deal is to terminate it and then make a new deal’, Trump said, according to a transcript published by the Washington Post. ‘But I don’t know that we can make a deal because Mexico is so spoiled with this horrible deal that they’ve lived with.'”

Mexico’s changing political leadership

NAFTA critic Andrés Manuel López Obrador is widely expected to win the Mexican presidential election on July 1 and be sworn into office on December 1. While Trudeau, Trump and outgoing Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto want to lock in Mexico’s energy “reforms” in a NAFTA 2.0, Obrador has pledged after he is elected on July 1 to put a stop to privatizations and public auctions of offshore oil licences.

Trump’s economic extortion

Earlier this month, Trump said that the US would hold off on devastating steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada and Mexico pending the outcome of the NAFTA talks. With a clearly implied threat, Trump stated, “We’re going to hold off the tariff on those two countries to see whether or not we’re able to make the deal on NAFTA.”

Trudeau’s unfounded optimism

Earlier this week, Bloomberg reported, “Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he’s willing to accelerate NAFTA talks to get ahead of U.S. and Mexico election pressures if needed, striking an upbeat tone on the fate of the trade pact. Trudeau [said] he was ‘very optimistic we’re going to be able to get to a win-win-win’ deal on NAFTA.”

Trump’s poison pills

There does not appear to be movement on the so-called ‘poison pill’ demands: 1) opt out of Chapter 11 investor-state dispute settlement, 2) strike Chapter 19 dispute panels from the deal, 3) make Chapter 20 state-to-state panels advisory, 4) require 50 per cent US content in vehicles made in Canada and Mexico to qualify for duty free status, 5) prohibit Canadian and Mexican companies receiving more in US government contracts than American companies in those countries, 6) a sunset clause that would automatically kill the deal after five years unless all three sides agreed to keep it in place.

Our demands

The Council of Canadians is calling for a better NAFTA, one that replaces the current deal with an agreement that ends the controversial investor-state dispute settlement mechanism that has been repeatedly used to undermine environmental protections, removes energy proportionality (rather than expanding it) and commits to a 100 per cent clean energy economy by 2050, removes water as a service, investment and a good and instead recognizes it as a human right along with the United Nations obligations to “respect, protect and fulfill” that right, and that enshrines the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the right to free, prior and informed consent.

To sign our petition on NAFTA, please click here.