Trade representatives from the United States, Canada and Mexico met in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday to begin an official renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).The renegotiation provides the Trump Administration with an opportunity to fulfill one of the president’s top campaign promises – a reset of the U.S. trade agenda.
National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson urged the administration to restore the balanced trade and domestic sovereignty that have been traded away in past agreements, noting NFU has long supported a transition to a fair trade framework.
“For decades, farming and rural communities across the country have suffered lost jobs, lowered wages, and fleeting economic liberty as a result of our nation’s free trade agenda,” said Johnson. “The Trump Administration must use this opportunity to reset that agenda by instituting a new, fair trade framework that works for family farmers, ranchers, and rural residents. NFU urges them to do so in a fashion that is transparent to the American public and does not upset the positive trade relations the U.S. agriculture community relies upon.”
Over the past several decades, the United States entered into free trade agreements with 20 countries, maintaining a trade framework that advanced the interests of multinational corporations at the expense of family farmers, ranchers, and rural workers, Johnson said.
This free trade framework began with the U.S. entering into NAFTA in 1994, NFU said.
NAFTA was the first U.S. trade agreement to include the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) arbitration procedure, Johnson said. That allows foreign companies to sue governments over laws that undermine their profits. These suits go before foreign tribunals, and their results can ultimately dictate U.S. laws.
“Provisions like ISDS tip the scales in favor of multinational corporations, consolidating money and power into the hands of few. They need to be eliminated through this renegotiation process to support vibrant family farm operations and rural communities,” he said.