Reforming_NA_Trade_Policy_09

Reforming_NA_Trade_Policy_09 - Americas Program Commentary...

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Americas Policy Program w w w. a m e r i c a s p o l i c y. o r g A New World of Citizen Action, Analysis, and Policy Options Thus, it is no surprise that the agreement continues to gen- erate controversy.While proponents credit the agreement with stimulating the flow of goods, services, and invest- ment among the North American countries, critics in all three countries argue that this has not brought improve- ments in the standards of living of most people. In the United States, the agreement is blamed for job loss, for adding downward pressure on wages, particularly in manufacturing, and for contributing to a large U.S. trade deficit. In Canada, critics point to job losses, the declining competitiveness of the manufacturing sector, and the con- straints NAFTA has put on Canada to deploy adequate poli- cies for public welfare. In Mexico, NAFTA is blamed for cre- ating few new jobs while decimating many existing sources of livelihood, particularly in agriculture. In all three coun- tries, citizen groups and government officials decry the capability granted foreign investors to sue governments if legislation negatively affects their profits, or expected prof- its. The demands for changes in NAFTA, made by the civil soci- eties of each of these three countries, go well beyond the May 2007 concessions that the newly elected Democratic majority in the U.S. Congress won from the Bush adminis- tration. These concessions include reforms in labor, envi- ronmental, and intellectual property provisions for future trade agreements, which were incorporated into the pend- ing agreements with Peru, Panama, and Colombia. As of this writing only the first has been approved, while serious criticisms on human rights and financial issues continue to hold up the other two. Reformers in the U.S. Congress introduced the “Trade Reform, Accountability, Development, and Employment Act” (TRADE Act) of 2009 in the summer of 2009. With more than100 co-sponsors from both chambers, the TRADE Act calls for a review of existing trade pacts, includ- ing NAFTA. The act also sets forth instruments to be includ- ed in the template for future agreements. President Barack Obama has yet to demand renegotiation of NAFTA, but he has reiterated the need to rethink NAFTA and to change the template for U.S. trade agreements. To contribute to the review process—and the broader discus- sion of NAFTA as the prevailing template for trade agree- ments—Boston University’s Frederick Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future convened a TaskForce on Trade Policy in North America. Chaired by Kevin P. Gallagher, Enrique Dussel Peters, and Timothy A. Wise, the task force brought together academic experts from the three NAFTA countries to identify the areas that are in need of reform under NAFTA and to put forth concrete proposals for such reform.
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