Not Paying Attention to Trump’s NAFTA Negotiations? Here’s Why You Should Be

by Charlie Cray

August 9, 2017

Because fair trade has more to do with a clean environment and healthy climate than you might think.

A rally sign reads

A rally sign reads "NAFTA is the criminal." The movement to renegotiate free trade deals has united activists from the labor, environmental, civil rights, and consumer protection movements. Photo by Jim Winstead / Flickr.

Just two weeks ago, the Trump administration announced its agenda for the re-negotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a decades-old trade deal between the United States, Mexico, and Canada. By most accounts, the deal has been a blow to the American working class and led to pollution and environmental degradation in all three countries.

But that’s not what Trump is going to change.

For all his talk about bringing back jobs, Trump’s administration is about to start secretly negotiating a pro-polluter agreement that is just as bad for workers and the environment as the current NAFTA ― or worse.

For the most part, Trump’s NAFTA agenda is still quite vague. That’s partly because he doesn’t want to fully reveal the multiple ways in which he’s blatantly betraying the campaign promises he made to voters in Rust Belt states. It’s also partly because his administration doesn’t have its act totally together ― there are conflicting agendas between the nationalist (see Steve Bannon) and multinational corporate trade-fundamentalist factions of the Trump administration.

But the parts that are clear are not good, and the details will only get worse as corporate lobbyists ghost-write most of it behind closed doors.

Still, Trump is facing an uphill battle ― one that starts with your resistance.

We’ve stopped these pro-polluter free trade deals before and we can do it again. It was, after all, people-powered resistance that defeated the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) just last year.

Trump will continue to push his populist rhetoric and claim he’s negotiating an entirely new deal. He could also bully his team to deliver a “skinny” deal to please his corporate backers if they’re running short on time. And they can do a lot of it by simply cutting and pasting some of the worst provisions from the TPP, while adding in a few others — such as one particularly nasty clause that gives corporations the right to sue governments before closed tribunals — with no opportunity for public input or appeal in our courts. An infamous example of this kind of supranational maneuvering is the case filed by TransCanada against the United States after the Obama administration reject the permits to build the Keystone XL pipeline. (TransCanada set aside its complaint after Trump’s executive order re-opened the door to KXL.)

Trump also has to get Congress to approve it ― and that won’t be easy. For one, the timeline to finish the negotiations runs out in February, when campaigning for the 2018 Mexican presidential election is expected to begin. That’s why it’s crucial to start putting the pressure on now, just as negotiations are beginning and members of Congress are in their home districts, listening to constituents like you.

Here’s how we stop Trump from pushing through a deal that puts corporate polluters before people like you and me.

We have to start exposing Trump’s trade agenda as the fraud that it is.

We have to take back the political capital he stole from the movement when he claimed the TPP victory for himself. A people-powered movement spanning labor, consumer rights, environmentalists, immigrant rights, faith-based communities, and many others concerned about economic and environmental justice defeated the TPP. And only that same united movement will defeat a nasty new NAFTA designed to transfer power from people to corporations.

It comes down to this ― NAFTA is not about free trade. That’s the lie. In reality, it’s a grandly-designed corporate power grab, riddled with industry-specific favors and Trojan horses that well-paid lawyers invented to help corporations elude constitutional accountability and undermine the regulations that protect people and the planet.

Judging by the crew he’s appointed to head his trade policy team, we should only expect Trump’s NAFTA to be even more damaging to our climate and communities.

So, what kind of deal do we want to see instead?

At it’s core, any trade deal needs to put the needs of people and planet before those of corporate lobbyists. Our criteria for a new NAFTA are clear: does it support a stable climate, clean air and water, healthy communities, Indigenous peoples, and good jobs? If not, expect to meet popular resistance.

Our allies have been hard at work creating tools you can use to bring these demands to your members of Congress right now. You can get involved today by:

  • Downloading and following the steps in this online #ReplaceNAFTA toolkit.
  • Requesting a #ReplaceNAFTA action packet, mailed to you free of charge.
  • Emailing contact@replacenafta.org to learn about hearings and events coming up near you. In August, there will be field hearings in Oakland, Detroit, Ohio (Burke Park), Portland, Pittsburgh, Dallas, San Antonio, Seattle-Tacoma, and Boston.

This is just the start. There will be more after August, but now is the time to talk to members of Congress about this!

Charlie Cray

By Charlie Cray

Charlie Cray is a senior research specialist at Greenpeace USA. He specializes in corporations & democracy, GMOs, toxics and fracking.

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