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Bugs





Joined: 16 Dec 2009
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PostPosted: Wed May 10, 2017 5:09 pm    Post subject: An Overview of the impending re-negotiation of NAFTA Reply with quote

Quote:
NAFTA Renegotiation: Canada can safely walk away from an unfair deal
It just so happens there are ways to redo or replace NAFTA to make it a better deal for workers in all three countries
By SCOTT SINCLAIR
Wed., May 10, 2017

The Trump administration is not making it easy to predict what a NAFTA renegotiation will look like for Canada.

On the one hand are demands from the U.S. president for a “fair” new framework for North American trade that puts American workers first. On the other are suggestions from Trump’s commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, that the significant concessions Canada and Mexico made in the defunct Trans-Pacific Partnership — a decidedly unfair deal — are an obvious starting point for NAFTA 2.0.

While this is a difficult situation, Canada is not defenceless. In fact, Canada should call Trump’s bluff by championing a fairer distribution of the benefits of trade — presumably the idea behind the Trudeau government’s ambitions to usher in a new generation of “progressive trade” agreements.

Anxiety about trade and globalization runs deep and goes beyond Trump’s core supporters.

Canada’s negotiating agenda will need to reflect that reality. It just so happens there are ways to redo or replace NAFTA to make it a better deal for workers in all three countries.

An obvious first step is to include strong, fully enforceable labour standards. Mexican workers, whose real wages have stagnated under NAFTA, and who are rarely free to join independent unions, would be the primary beneficiaries. But rising wages and improved working conditions in Mexico and many Southern U.S. states would provide support for the same in the rest of North America.

The Trump administration’s talk of strengthening NAFTA’s rules of origin (i.e., higher North American content quotas for duty free access) could also benefit North American manufacturing workers by discouraging the use of high levels of offshore content, such as auto parts from Asia.

Another area where Trump has blown hot and cold is on investment protection in NAFTA. Canada is the most-sued of the three countries under a controversial investor-state dispute settlement process in the agreement. Bad rulings, such as when Bilcon, a U.S. mining company, recently won damages for the impact on its investment of a rigorous environmental assessment process, put a chilling effect on legitimate public policy.

The U.S., meanwhile, has never lost a case. There is no room for these unreasonable investor protections in any truly fair NAFTA update.

The Trump administration intends to bolster Buy American purchasing policies, which could side-swipe Canadian suppliers. But the government’s standard response — to seek an exemption for Canadian goods — has fallen short before and will fare much worse today.

Canada could instead propose reciprocal “Buy North American” policies for new public infrastructure spending. If this is rejected, Canada should maximize national economic spinoffs on its own planned public investments through Buy Canadian policies.

While these changes would all make NAFTA moderately more worker-friendly, there are lines that Canada should not cross.

With U.S. industries teeing up a long list of trade remedy challenges against Canadian industries (lumber, aircraft, steel and aluminum), Canada can hardly give in to U.S. demands to eliminate or weaken NAFTA’s Chapter 19 binational review process. If anything, it needs to be strengthened. U.S. trade authorities have dragged out the process beyond agreed timelines and are reluctant to comply with panel rulings, most obviously when it comes to lumber.

Nor should Canada tolerate Trump’s scapegoating of Canadian dairy farmers. Ditching supply management would simply put our dairy farmers in the same predicament as their U.S. counterparts, who suffer from the effects of overproduction and farm-gate prices that fall below production costs.

Commerce Secretary Ross says Canada has an “anti-patent” position when it comes to pharmaceuticals, which is both false and worrisome. It would be exorbitantly expensive for Canadian consumers and our health care system if we gave in to pressure to align our system with excessive patent protection in the U.S.

In general, Canada’s immediate priority should be maintaining its tariff-free access to the U.S. market. But it is not too early to be considering an exit strategy.

If NAFTA were to come apart, perhaps through an executive order from Trump if Canada or Mexico balks at U.S. demands, WTO-bound tariff rates would then apply. This would be disruptive, but not catastrophic.

Under that scenario, Canadian exporters could face an additional US$3.5-5 billion in customs duties, equivalent to the value of 1.25 to 1.8 per cent of current exports. That’s a speed bump, for sure, but would not bring trade to a screeching halt.

If an “America First” NAFTA would be worse for Canada than the multilateral alternative, we can and should walk away from the table.
Scott Sinclair is senior research fellow with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and director of the centre’s Trade and Investment Research Project.
https://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2017/05/10/nafta-renegotiation-canada-can-safely-walk-away-from-an-unfair-deal.html
cosmostein





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PostPosted: Thu May 11, 2017 10:47 am    Post subject: Re: An Overview of the impending re-negotiation of NAFTA Reply with quote

Bugs wrote:

An obvious first step is to include strong, fully enforceable labour standards. Mexican workers, whose real wages have stagnated under NAFTA, and who are rarely free to join independent unions, would be the primary beneficiaries. But rising wages and improved working conditions in Mexico and many Southern U.S. states would provide support for the same in the rest of North America

https://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2017/05/10/nafta-renegotiation-canada-can-safely-walk-away-from-an-unfair-deal.html


The first obvious step is to saddle Mexico with the same inefficiencies that has made unskilled American and Canadian Labour cost prohibitive?

Lets hope this is just the Star putting its spin on reality,
Bugs





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PostPosted: Fri May 12, 2017 2:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have picked up the idea that the US trade commissioner has the feeling that Canada put supply-management on the table when it agreed to the Trans-Pacific Partnership. They mean to demand equal concessions for entrance to the American market.
RCO





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PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2017 8:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

U.S. triggers 90 day window ahead of NAFTA renegotiations



The Canadian Press

Thursday, May 18th, 2017


WASHINGTON — The United States has officially indicated its desire to renegotiate the 1993 North American Free Trade Agreement, triggering a 90-day consultation window before formal talks begin.

The clock was set ticking today in a letter from U.S. Trade Rep. Robert Lighthizer.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross says he is putting Congress and trading partners on notice that “free and fair” trade is the new standard in the U.S.

“With this letter, we intend to notify not just Congress, but all our trading partners, that free and fair trade is the new standard for U.S. trade deals,” the statement read.

Ross says the U.S. manufacturing industry has been decimated by NAFTA, a deal the White House considers deeply unfair.

“Since the signing of NAFTA, we have seen our manufacturing industry decimated, factories shuttered, and countless workers left jobless. President Trump is going to change that,” he says.

“I look forward working with the president, Ambassador Lighthizer, and our counterparts from Mexico and Canada to find a solution that is both fair and beneficial for all parties.”

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland welcomed what was a widely anticipated development, promising to consult with Canadians on the best way forward.

She reiterated the government’s key message on NAFTA — that it is in fact a good deal for all parties, including the U.S., where nine million American jobs are dependent on it.

“NAFTA’s track record is one of economic growth and middle-class job creation, both here in Canada and throughout North America,” Freeland said in a statement.

“We will continue to consult closely with the provinces and territories, industry, unions, civil society, think tanks, academics, indigenous peoples, women, youth and the general public.”

During the presidential campaign, Trump called NAFTA “a disaster.”

Last month, White House aides indicated he was ready to pull out of the agreement, but within hours, the president reversed course, saying he’d seek a better deal first.

Lighthizer says the U.S. is going to give renegotiation “a good strong shot,” saying the 23-year-old agreement needs to better protect American factory workers and to reflect new technologies.


http://ipolitics.ca/2017/05/18.....otiations/
Bugs





Joined: 16 Dec 2009
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PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2017 9:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What is the best policy, in face of these changing realities?

There is an impulsive desire to deny reality, and to challenge things, as one might in an interpersonal dispute. An No-more-Mr-Nice-Guy feeling.

Personally, I am less than keen on upping the ante with the Americans. In this poker game, the irritating guy across the table has a huge pile of chips, while we have the kind of modest stack that the tourist from Toronto might risk.

We only have resources we are trying to peddle. America is looking for ways to get industrial jobs.

We should try to pacify them with one big concession ... we could cooperate about things like supply-management but have a real 'line-in-the-sand'', where we walk away. And we should really look inside ourselves, when deciding where that line in the sand is. This won't work unless the population is involved, in my opinion. Do we want to be a country, after all, or a dependency of the American empire? It could come down to that.
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An Overview of the impending re-negotiation of NAFTA

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