NAFTA 2.0 is another bad deal

US free trade deals are profoundly unfair. They facilitate offshoring of jobs to China and other low-wage countries.

They empower corporate predators at the expense of ecosanity, worker pay, benefits and other rights.

Countless numbers of US manufacturing and other jobs were lost since the neoliberal 90s—“destroy[ing] the careers and incomes of tens of millions of US citizens, the pension tax base for state and local governments, the federal tax base for Social Security and Medicare, and the opportunity society that once characterized the United States of America,” Paul Craig Roberts explained.

In August, Trump touted the shameful US/Mexico trade deal, calling for Canada to join it. On September 30, the Trudeau government came aboard, agreeing to a renegotiated NAFTA.

It’s called the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). A joint statement by US trade representative Robert Lighthizer and Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland called the deal a “new, modernized trade agreement,” turning truth on its head, adding. “USMCA will give our workers, farmers, ranchers, and businesses a high-standard trade agreement that will result in freer markets, fairer trade and robust economic growth in our region.”

“It will strengthen the middle class, and create good, well-paying jobs and new opportunities for the nearly half billion people who call North America home.”

Fact: USMCA is a corporate coup d’état, written by and agreed to by lawyers representing their interests.

It’s all about prioritizing profits and other interests at the expense of workers, consumers, and ecosanity in the three countries.

It’s a jobs-destroying neoliberal rip-off, a freedom and ecosystem destroying nightmare like all so-called US trade deals.

Global Trade Watch (GTW) director Lori Lori Wallach addressed its investment chapter. A follow-up assessment will discuss USMCA’s full text.

Wallach noted investment chapter improvements, addressing key GTW demands, stressing more work is needed “to stop (USMCA’s) ongoing job outsourcing, downward pressure on our wages and environmental damage.”

Positive changes were made in NAFTA’s unacceptable corporate-run Investor State Dispute Settlement tribunals, consistently ruling for business at the expense of fairness.

Under NAFTA and similar US trade deals, corporate predators have been able to sue governments for virtually unlimited compensation before a rigged panel of three corporate lawyers—their ruling final, not subject to appeal.

Rulings in their favor could be gotten by claiming laws protecting public health or ecosanity violate their trade agreement rights.

Assets of nations refusing to pay could be seized. The so-called investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism incentivizes offshoring of jobs, providing special privileges and rights for firms relocating operations abroad—facilitating a global race to the bottom.

NAFTA 2.0 and similar deals aren’t about trade. They’re all about maximizing corporate profits. Offshoring jobs will continue unabated under what the US, Mexico and Canada agreed on.

Wallach: “Unless there are strong labor and environmental standards that are subject to swift and certain enforcement, US firms will continue to outsource jobs to pay Mexican workers poverty wages, dump toxins and bring their products back here for sale, adding that USMCA “maintains NAFTA’s waiver of Buy American rules that require the US government to procure US-made goods, which would mean more outsourced US tax dollars and jobs.”

“New monopoly privileges for pharmaceutical firms added to the deal could undermine reforms needed to make medicine more affordable here and increase prices in Mexico and Canada, limiting access to lifesaving medicines.”

Wallach stressed how failed deals like NAFTA and its slightly improved new version serve corporate interests at the expense of ordinary people and the environment.

What’s needed is “a complete transformation” of what’s gone on up to now, she stressed.

NAFTA alone was responsible for about a million lost manufacturing and other jobs, along with facilitating downward pressure on wages and benefits.

USMCA fails to address these vital issues.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.” Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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