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Renegotiating NAFTA

October 14th, 2017

Stephen Lendman

Many NAFTA terms are non-negotiable. Chapter 11 promotes offshoring, companies building plants abroad getting special protections - including private enforcement through the so-called Investor State Dispute Settlement.

US, Canadian and Mexican companies can sue governments before a tribunal of three corporate lawyers.

They can get unlimited monetary awards from taxpayers - compensation for loss of future profits by claiming the nation they relocated to violated NAFTA provisions.

Hundreds of millions of dollars have been paid these predatory firms under what Global Trade Watch director Lori Wallach calls “extrajudicial NAFTA” provisions - available only to relocated firms, a huge incentive to offshore, besides gaining access to low-wage labor. Companies only need to convince the corporate lawyer tribunal that laws protecting public health, digital rights or ecosanity violate NAFTA provisions.

Tribunal lawyer rulings are final, not subject to appeal. Chapter 11 is a corporate giveaway, a grand theft scheme, sure to remain part of any NAFTA renegotiated changes to the January 1, 1994 agreement.

Trade representative Robert Lighthizer is in charge of Trump administration renegotiations. On Wednesday, a fourth round begins. According to an unnamed senior congressional aide, he’s arguing for:

a high percentage of car parts and materials to be manufactured by NAFTA countries, a large portion in America;

renegotiating NAFTA every five years;

modifying, not ending, Chapter 11, the Investor State Dispute Settlement provision; the business community strongly opposes changes, Trump likely at least largely to go along.

He’s facing enormous pressure to leave NAFTA intact, the way things will likely turn out, changes made, if any, to be agreed on by corporate interests so benefits they consider most important aren’t lost.

NAFTA is anti-labor, anti-environment, anti-consumer and anti-democratic.

Corporate lawyers and lobbyists representing them wrote it, the worst trade deal ever agreed on, a monumental jobs-killer, a playing field tilted one way, favoring investors, ignoring public rights and welfare.

It’s unclear if talks will produce anything acceptable to Congress. It has final say on a renegotiated deal if there is one.

Trump has one unilateral option - withdrawing from NAFTA, ending America’s worst ever agreed on deal - a step he’s highly unlikely to take.


Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

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