On November 30, 2018, Canada, the United States and Mexico signed a new trilateral trade agreement for North America called the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA). This deal – if ratified by all three countries – will replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
U.S. President Donald Trump bullied his way through the negotiations on the CUSMA, or the “United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement,” as Trump calls it, to put the interests of corporations ahead of concerns for people’s health and our environment.
Up until recently, the deal hit a roadblock in the United States. Many Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives are pushing for progressive changes to the deal on labour and environmental provisions, as well as rules for pharmaceutical drugs.
The Council of Canadians has always been a leader in the fight for better, fairer trade deals. Council of Canadians supporters pushed for – and won – important gains in CUSMA, including the elimination of provisions that allow corporations to sue countries over their public interest laws and policies and the elimination of energy proportionality that set mandatory export quotas for Canadian energy to the U.S.
And while these are important gains in CUSMA, there are still major flaws in the deal including:
- New corporate-friendly “regulatory cooperation” provisions that limit governments’ abilities to regulate in areas such as chemicals, food safety, and the environment.
- Concessions on supply management that threaten the survival of Canada’s family farms.
- Drug protections that expand Big Pharma’s powers to demand exorbitant prices for drugs.
- Regulations that prevent governments from assisting Crown Corporations in their social missions.
The U.S. recently removed controversial tariffs on steel and this may lead the governments in Canada, the United States and Mexico to rush through ratification of CUSMA, but we can’t let that happen until Democrats in the U.S. have an opportunity to make progressive changes to the deal.
The Trudeau government should put the brakes on CUSMA and support changes that will benefit us all.