A Possible Change In NAFTA Trade Policy?

Dave Johnson

This is interesting: US, Mexico, Canada to hold talks on NAFTA.

From the story,

US Trade Representative Ron Kirk said in a statement Thursday that he will host Mexico’s Secretary of the Economy Gerardo Ruiz Mateos and Canadian Trade Minister Stockwell Day for talks on “ways to ensure that the benefits of our trilateral trade and economic relationship are widely shared and sustainable.”

. . . Obama hinted on the campaign trail last year that he might renegotiate NAFTA to include greater labor and environmental safeguards, but Canada and Mexico have expressed wariness at the prospect of reopening trade negotiations.

Seeing the words “shared” and “sustainable” in a statement on trade talks is certainly refreshing — and promising. Is it possible that they are going to talk about ways to think long term and conduct trade in ways that actually benefit the people and workers in the NAFTA countries, instead of just boosting the short term gain of a few large corporations at the expense of the rest of us?

Less promising is this statement in a Canadian paper, the Winnipeg Sun, Day to meet with U.S., Mexican counterparts,

Curbing protectionism and keeping borders secure but open for business will top the agenda when Trade Minister Stockwell Day meets with his U.S. and Mexican counterparts.

. . . “We need to work, among ourselves, to make sure the costs that we put on the backs of business are as low as possible — especially in light of this global downturn,” he said.

Unfortunately, these days the word “costs” in the context of businesses too often means … well, us. When big business talks about shedding “costs” they mean pensions, wages, workers, laws against dumoing toxins into the air and water, laws against fleecing customers, laws against just stealing, etc.

So we’ll see.

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