“Most of the long-term problems with NAFTA that have caused so much grief were not fixed,” says Larry Brown. “We’ll still lose factories to right-to-work states and we’ll still face wage stagnation caused by direct competition with lower wage countries, both the US and Mexico."
Ottawa (02 Oct 2018) — Late on Sunday, Sept 30, a new trilateral trade and investment agreement was finalized between the United States, Mexico and Canada. The U.S.–Mexico–Canada Agreement (or USMCA) will replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
Initial reading indicates Canada capitulated
“Based on our initial reading of the contents of this agreement, we are very disappointed about what we are learning,” said Larry Brown, President of the 390,000-member National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE).
“This much is clear: in several key areas Prime Minister Trudeau capitulated to the demands of the Trump administration, with major concessions in areas that will undermine regulatory protection in the public interest, harm workers, imperil Canada’s food production system, and do nothing to reverse climate change or protect the environment.”
Canada bought into a deal that delivers very little for Canadians
The new agreement extends patent protections for biologics which will drive up drug costs and may make a national Pharmcare plan unviable. Furthermore, the deal betrays Canadian dairy farmers and the wine industry, and abandons our steel and aluminum industries.
As for Canada’s auto industry, not much was gained. Canada will be hit with 25 per cent auto tariffs if passenger vehicle exports reach 2.6 million units a year. That’s a major disincentive to serious growth in the Canadian auto industry. If we grow, we get punished.
Brown thinks that the Canadian government, “bought into the hysteria that a deal was absolutely necessary, that somehow NAFTA was the only reason we could trade with the U.S., and that it was crucial that we continue with some kind of agreement. We had trade with the U.S. before NAFTA, we would have trade with the U.S. without NAFTA 2.0. All NAFTA did — and all that the US-MCA does is continue to provide supranational rights to corporations.”
Promise of progressive trade agenda is dead
What’s more, the Canadian government's much publicized promise of a “progressive trade agenda” is dead. In its place, Canada negotiated a trade deal without any gender or indigenous chapters, that does not even mention “climate change,” the Paris Agreement, or anthropogenic global warming. What it does offer is a labour chapter suffering from limited application and weak enforcement.
“Most of the long-term problems with NAFTA that have caused so much grief were not fixed,” says Brown. “We’ll still lose factories to right-to-work states; we’ll still face wage stagnation caused by direct competition with lower wage countries, both in the U.S. and in Mexico. We gave up our dairy farmers, and we abandoned our steel and aluminum industries. We agreed to a review process which will allow the U.S. to keep us on a short leash. We sold out our wine industry and caved in on demands for higher drug prices — all to keep an agreement that was a disadvantage to Canada in the first place and is now worse.”
Brown adds, “Even the major improvement of an end to the Chapter 11 investor-state dispute resolution system (ISDS) came from the U.S., not from our government.”
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE