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Trudeau heads to Washington to sell Trump on NAFTA, increased energy integration

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be meeting with US President Donald Trump in the White House today to talk about the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Last Friday, Trudeau commented, “We’re going to talk about all sorts of things we align on, like jobs and economic growth, opportunities for the middle class.”

This morning, The Globe and Mail’s National Business Columnist Barrie McKenna writes, “Mr. Trudeau needs to debunk the myth that NAFTA is a job-killing monster. The real story of NAFTA is that the 23-year-old deal has dramatically boosted trade within the region, saved jobs and helped the region stay competitive as commerce has gone global, according to a Bank of Nova Scotia report released Friday.”

McKenna concludes, “Mr. Trudeau should work hard to make sure the starting point for renegotiating NAFTA isn’t based on myths and alternative facts.” But well-documented studies show that NAFTA has had a negative impact on 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, 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 your letter to Trudeau to highlight these concerns concerns, please go to our action alert NAFTA renegotiations cannot be another backroom deal.

Unfortunately, the Trudeau government appears to be heading toward another dangerous backroom deal.

This morning, The Globe and Mail reports, “Officials say Canada envisions at least five broad areas in which the two countries could team up to create jobs and satisfy Mr. Trump’s concerns about a secure United States: infrastructure spending on both sides of the border for projects such as rebuilding the electrical grid; increased energy integration through oil and natural-gas pipelines; increased border-security co-operation, such as preclearance of cargo; joint collaboration on cybersecurity; and revamping the North American Aerospace Defence Command to include Canada’s participation in the U.S. missile-defence shield.”

Further reading
Trudeau backs C-23, armed US border guards in Canada (February 2017)