LOS BANOS, California — As Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue prepares to hold events promoting the Trump administration’s proposed North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) revision — also called the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) — the director of the California Trade Justice Coalition, Will Wiltschko, issued the following statement:
“As written, NAFTA 2.0 would expand the privileges and profits of corporate elites, while failing to take the steps needed to protect the livelihoods of hard-working families in rural California and beyond.
“The proposed NAFTA deal fails to make the changes needed to protect jobs and raise wages for American workers and family farmers. There’s nothing in the current proposal that would prevent the outsourcing of jobs or that would reverse our high agricultural trade deficit. In fact, a recent International Monetary Fund study concluded NAFTA 2.0 would have a negative effect on both overall U.S. welfare and in agriculture specifically.
“While hundreds of corporate lobbyists had inside access to NAFTA negotiators, the voices of rural America were largely ignored throughout the NAFTA renegotiation process. For instance, American consumers are increasingly interested in knowing where and how their food is produced — and America’s farmers and ranchers want to tell them. But the repeated calls of family farmers and ranchers for a NAFTA deal to restore country-of-origin-labeling for meat products were ignored by trade negotiators.
“One call trade negotiators was sure to answer was that of the pharmaceutical lobby. At a time when many Californians struggle to afford the medicine prescribed to them by their doctors, the new NAFTA text sneaks in language that would lock in lengthy monopoly periods for pharmaceutical companies, blocking competition from lower-cost generic medicines and keeping medicines prices outrageously high.
“Instead of rubber-stamping this business-as-usual trade deal, California’s Members of Congress should continue insisting on the substantive changes necessary for a NAFTA replacement to truly benefit working families. We’re counting on our elected officials to demand stronger labor and environmental standards with swift and certain enforcement; restoration of our country-of-original-labeling program; and the removal of language that locks in high medicine prices.”
The California Trade Justice Coalition is a statewide coalition of labor, environmental, family farm, faith and consumer organizations working together to improve U.S. trade policy.
photo credit: Bob White. licensed under Creative Commons