U.S. Progressives unimpressed by the new NAFTA’s purported economic gains

While the Mueller report was making its rounds, just before Easter break, another critical report was released: the U.S. International Trade Commission report on the new NAFTA—otherwise known as the Canada United States Mexico Agreement.  The report is an essential part of the U.S. Congress fast track process which permits U.S. Congress to vote for the deal without adding amendments. 

The report showed absolutely tiny gains—less than one percent—for the U.S. economy.  With 35/100 percent GDP growth over five years. 

While U.S. President Trump lauded the agreement’s huge gains, and Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said this showed that the agreement was a “classic win-win outcome”, U.S. progressives remained unconvinced.

Lori Wallach from the consumer rights group Public Citizen called the gains minimal.

The highest projected gains in wages, employment and output are all less than one-half of one percent – with most figures much lower….. The report projects that over time, the agreement would add 175,800 jobs, which is less than one-fifth of what the U.S. government has certified as lost to the original NAFTA,” writes Public Citizen.

According to the report, because tariffs were eliminated in the original NAFTA, they admit that the results are modest.  However, they see growth in three sectors, automotive, because of claimed better certainty over rules of origin, intellectual property, because of increased protections for monopoly pharmaceutical corporations and Big U.S. data. 

And it sees growth from the U.S. access to our supply managed sector.  Remember, In the new NAFTA, the U.S. access will gain 3.59 percent access to our dairy market which will put in jeopardy many of our small farms, plus will bring in milk produced with Bovine Growth Hormone, permitted in the U.S, but not licensed in Canada.

While big farmers championed the results, those representing family farms reminded us that the deal is devastating to small farmers and the environment.

Sharon Treat, Senior Attorney from the U.S. Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy says the deal fails to improve the economy and the lives of people.

"New NAFTA isn't just a rhetorical flourish. The agreement is a nearly 2,000-page document with corporate giveaways larded throughout. It would slash consumer protections by limiting food safety oversight and informational labeling, lock in deregulation of the newest genetic modification techniques, and devise new ways to hide health and environmental risk information from the public."

They add, “The original NAFTA hurt farmers and hollowed out rural communities in the United States, Mexico and Canada, and despite claims from President Trump and U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue that New NAFTA is needed to fix the farm economy, the ITC report shows this rhetoric does not match reality. In fact, the New NAFTA will entrench underlying structural issues, exacerbating our ongoing farm crisis, plagued by low prices, rising debt and increased bankruptcies. It locks in a system where global agribusiness firms exploit farmers and extract from rural communities in all three nations.”

Public Citizen predicted that this deal was unlikely to assuage Democratic opposition to the deal. Democrats, newly in control of the U.S. House of Representatives, are demanding that the deal be reopened to eliminate new protections for biologic drugs, and make meaningful, enforceable environment and labour chapters.

Already, Inside U.S. Trade, a trade specialists news source, quoted numerous Democrats saying that they were unimpressed by the economic numbers.

Senate Finance Committee ranking Ron Wyden said, “This report confirms what has been clear since this deal was announced – Donald Trump’s NAFTA represents at best a minor update to NAFTA, which will offer only limited benefits to U.S. workers.  As I’ve said for months, the administration shouldn’t squander the opportunity to lock in real, enforceable labor standards in Mexico and fix the enforcement problems that have plagued NAFTA.”

U.S. Progressives are asking to make important changes, while Canada is refusing to reopen the agreement.  On health care, the U.S. Democrats are asking for the removal of provisions that would protect big U.S. pharma, while raising the prices of drugs for Canadians for as much as $169 million in the first year of application, according to the Parliamentary Budget Officer.

We must stand with U.S. Progressives on this.  Sign our petition telling Minister Freeland not to be a barrier to our health! Canada should be open to making the new NAFTA deal better for people, not for corporations.