Magazine article New Internationalist

The Right Way to Rewrite NAFTA

Magazine article New Internationalist

The Right Way to Rewrite NAFTA

Article excerpt

What is an internationalist to make of Donald J Trump's vow to blow up the North American Free Trade Agreement?

As of late April, President Trump was preparing to issue an executive order commencing US withdrawal from NAFTA, which he has criticized as 'one of the worst deals ever' for American workers. Analysts interpreted the move as a hardline bargaining ploy, designed to force Mexico and Canada to renegotiate the agreement on terms more favourable to the White House.

I hate to agree with Trump, but he's right about NAFTA - and about the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which he scuttled after blasting the deal as 'another disaster done and pushed by special interests'.

The problem is, the president's vision for the global economy is hardly one based on universal rights and cross-border solidarity. On the contrary, his fauxpopulist track record suggests that anything Trump does to renegotiate NAFTA will be geared toward providing handouts to his billionaire buddies.

Back in the late 1990s and early 2000s, at the height of demonstrations against the World Trade Organization and International Monetary Fund, many protesters rejected being labelled an 'anti-globalization movement' by the media. More accurate, they argued, would be to understand their mobilizations as part of a 'global justice movement' with deep international ties. Anti-corporate critics contended that the question was not whether we would have some form of globalization, but whether this order would be based on neoliberal economic mandates or on genuinely democratic principles.

The call to rewrite or repeal NAFTA has been a longstanding demand of global justice progressives. The fact that Trump has been able to co-opt this issue for his own purposes reflects a catastrophic failure of the Democratic Party.

Within the base of the party, there is a widespread recognition that neoliberal trade deals have created an international 'race to the bottom' on labour and environmental standards. This has hurt not only US workers but their counterparts in the Global South as well. …

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