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When Nafta closes a door…

4 April 2017

One of the biggest complaints about NAFTA way back when it was a pup was that it was pushed through (both here and in the US… don’t know about Canada) with a lot of discussion in the media, but no real knowledge of what was in the treaty itself.  It had been negotiated behind closed doors, leaving citizens in all three countries unpleasantly surprised when things like outside arbitrators over-rode national policy, or a local community dependent on one major industry found their product couldn’t be sold to the other countries, or that decisions always taken at the local level depended on some policy no one had ever heard of before.

With the future of NAFTA now in question (no one really thinks, I hope, that Trump… or Trudeau… or Peña Nieto is going to control the process, or that either Mexico or Canada doesn’t have it’s own “non-negotiable demands”) and Mexico — looking out for its own interests — considering more post-NAFTA deals, keeping citizens informed of the processes isn’t all that radical a demand.

And… as I’ve said… and others have been saying for a long time, the big problem with NAFTA has been that Mexico has become over-dependent on one trading partner.  So, the European Union trade deal is important, as even the unions understand:

(“Diversificar la economía, la mejor salida ante amenazas de Trump: Gómez Urrutia” Patricia Muñoz Ríos, Jornada, 4 April 2017, page 14. My translation)

Diversifying the economy is the best way to counter the threats of US President Donald Trump, according to Napoleón Gómez Urrutia, general secretary of the National Mining Union (Sindicato Nacional Minero),.

The union leader said that the round of negotiations taking place this week in Brussels, Belgium, to renew and expand the Free Trade Agreement between the European Union and Mexico (TLCUEM), while of extreme importance, have not been reported as thoroughly as they should.

Although we have heard very little about this issue in the press, and practically nothing from the federal government, these negotiations, which should be completed by the end of this year, are fundamental for the working class and for all Mexicans. He asserted that the central point of the negotiation is that Mexico must diversify both its markets and its investor pool ahead of threatened actions by the Trump administration.

Gómez Urrutia argues that Mexico must reduce the dependency on its northern neighbor, which has been maintained and deepened by the governments of the Institutional Revolutionary and National Action parties in the past three decades, adding that this change of course has been a long-time demand of progressive sectors.

Regarding the negotiations with the European Union, he explained that it is of vital importance to analyze any agreements with a clear head, paying close attention to European proposals in areas like the extractive industries (including energy and mines), agricultural production, intellectual property, the service industry, and government purchasing.

While stressing that the negotiations should not be stretched out, the Mexican government needs to provide more information to the public, and to bargain in a tranparent manner.

He also said that any agreement must incorporate international human rights and labor standards, in which the Mexican government remains weak.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Allen Manana permalink
    5 April 2017 11:15 am

    NAFTA has been so misunderstood and reported on so poorly that it is surprising that more union people are not up in arms.
    Brain Mulroney, Prime Minister of Canada, at the time, drove the deal forward. And, he did keep Mexico’s interests in mind, as did the USA to a lesser extent.
    Since Mulroney was, and is, a Conservative he aligned with the Republicans and the PAN in Mexico. By segmenting manufacturing, the productivity increased as did efficiencies .
    It was the right time for Mexico especially. Mexico’s young and educated and willing, workforce shone and grew prosperous.
    Canada’s , grew very old, as did the USA’s workforce.
    Trump’s bluster appeals to the older union people in the USA and Canada. So the problem is age and productivity.
    Brian Mulroney has inserted himself into the re-negotiations , for several reasons.
    In Canada, the current Prime Minister and his key players are incompetent, even worse than E. Pena Nieto..
    It will affect Mexico very little, although Brasil (Brazil) is hoping that Mexico gets clobbered.
    Things will change. In future buying used cars FROM the USA will be more difficult.
    agg

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