BREAKING: Trump's Weak NAFTA Tweaks Reveal Administration's Trade Hypocrisy

April 4, 2017

BREAKING: Trump’s Weak NAFTA Tweaks Reveal Administration’s Trade Hypocrisy

Despite President Trump’s heated rhetoric against the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a recent draft of his plans to modify the pact bears a striking resemblance to the same corporate-friendly, TPP-like trade agenda that he claimed to oppose during his campaign.

Last week, the administration’s much-anticipated NAFTA proposal circulated through the halls of Congress, but appeared only to seek modest tweaks to what Trump once called the “worst trade deal” ever. Instead of sweeping changes to stop the offshoring of manufacturing jobs or to eliminate NAFTA’s corporate court system that’s weakening U.S. labor and environmental laws, the plan would expand protections for digital trade and commerce, strengthen intellectual property rights for corporations, and preserve NAFTA’s ban on Buy American programs.

In response, labor organizations are criticizing the proposal for its similarity to the now-defunct Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which was so widely opposed it failed to secure enough votes in Congress. “This plan represents the ultimate betrayal of working people by the Trump Administration,” said Robert Longer, Political Coordinator for the Communications Workers of America, District 9. “In modeling NAFTA renegotiations after the failed TPP, President Trump has made clear that corporate rights take priority over the lives of the American people.”

Environmental organizations have expressed alarm about Trump’s plans to keep NAFTA’s corporate court system intact, which provides them a forum to challenge labor and climate protections and forces taxpayers to foot the bill for perceived lost profits. “Trump plans to retain NAFTA’s Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions, allowing global corporations to sue countries in front of business-friendly tribunals,” said Erich Pica, President of Friends of the Earth. “These tribunals allow corporations to punish governments wishing to enforce sensible environmental and public interest regulations by imposing massive monetary damages.”

“The Trump Administration is blatantly siding with corporations over working people in a process that’s as secretive and undemocratic as the TPP fiasco,” said Aaron Lehmer-Chang, Director of the California Trade Justice Coalition. “Thankfully, people are standing up to Trump’s trade hypocrisy and demanding that the health of our communities and our environment come first.”

In the months ahead, the California Trade Justice Coalition and its allies are hosting a series of town halls highlighting NAFTA’s negative impacts, while promoting positive solutions that can improve local economies, communities, and environmental health across North America.

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  • Sierra Club and enviro groups’ platform for NAFTA replacement (online here) and Sierra Club’s activist toolkit (online here)
  • Citizens Trade Campaign’s letter outlining priorities in a NAFTA replacement (online here)
  • Rep. DeLauro’s letter outlining priorities in a NAFTA replacement (online here)
  • AFL-CIO’s article on how to rewrite NAFTA (online here)
  • Family farm group’s principles for replacing NAFTA (online here)
  • Rep. Levin’s response to the leaked NAFTA plan (online here)

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