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The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has been a Disaster

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The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has been a Disaster


Not long ago, the global economy didn’t matter much to the average American. But the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and Most Favored Nation status (MFN) with China taught millions of Americans that economic forces beyond our borders can powerfully affect us, helping determine whether our jobs will be moved away, or whether our wages and benefits will be lowered. One of the great crises facing American workers is “the race to the bottom” within the global economy. As a result of increased capital flow, various “free trade” agreements, and the role of international financial organizations like the International Monetary Fund, workers in the United States are increasingly being put in the position of having to “compete” with desperate Third World workers in Mexico, China, Vietnam and other countries who are forced to work for wages as low as 20 cents an hour. Clearly, Congress must make radical changes in our trade policies and our relationship to such international financial organizations as the IMF and the World Bank. The goal of U.S. policy must be to improve the standard of living of workers in both the United States and the developing world and not simply protect the interests of multinational corporations. We must support “fair trade” and not “free trade,” and demand that corporate America start reinvesting in the United States.

NAFTA, MAI & the WTO

Not long ago, the global economy didn’t matter much to the average American. But the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and Most Favored Nation status (MFN) with China taught millions of Americans that economic forces beyond our borders can powerfully affect us, helping determine whether our jobs will be moved away, or whether our wages and benefits will be lowered. One of the great crises facing American workers is “the race to the bottom” within the global economy. As a result of increased capital flow, various “free trade” agreements, and the role of international financial organizations like the International Monetary Fund, workers in the United States are increasingly being put in the position of having to “compete” with desperate Third World workers in Mexico, China, Vietnam and other countries who are forced to work for wages as low as 20 cents an hour. Clearly, Congress must make radical changes in our trade policies and our relationship to such international financial organizations as the IMF and the World Bank. The goal of U.S. policy must be to improve the standard of living of workers in both the United States and the developing world and not simply protect the interests of multinational corporations. We must support “fair trade” and not “free trade,” and demand that corporate America start reinvesting in the United States.

World Trade Organization After five years of operation, there is now concrete evidence of the WTO's enormous power to require changes in our existing national, state, and local laws. WTO decisions, made largely in secret and undemocratically, effect a wide range of public policies concerning the environment, procurement, public health, food and product safety and basic human rights. Increasingly powerful multinational corporations based in the U.S. and elsewhere, acting through national governments, are using the WTO to tighten their grip on a one-world economy. In recent years, the World Trade Organization (WTO) has forced changes in the Clean Air Act, U.S. Dolphin Protection laws and US Turtle Protection laws. Currently a Massachusetts law prohibiting companies doing business in Burma from bidding on Massachusetts state contracts is being challenged in the WTO. Further, any national or state initiative which encourages preferential treatment for local, state or American companies ("Buy American" or "Buy Vermont") is also subject to challenge. The people of this country have the right to maintain the level of environmental and food safety standards that they feel are appropriate, and these standards should not be subject to challenge through the WTO by other countries with weaker standards. The people of this country have the right to use economic sanctions to fight for democracy around the world as we did in South Africa, without being challenged by corporations who believe that "free-trade" is more important than social and rights. For more information about the WTO, you may want to visit the following sites:

Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch
FOE's Trade, Investment and the Environment
http://www.seattle99.org

North American Free Trade Agreement NAFTA has been a disastrous policy for working people and the environment in all three signatory nations. Under NAFTA, trade deficits with Mexico and Canada have cost the United States 420,000 jobs. At the same time, hourly compensation for Mexican workers has fallen 36%. Air and water quality also continue to deteriorate in Mexico due to rapid industrialization. NAFTA is sending jobs across our border and forcing Americans to compete with Mexican workers who earn as little as $2 per day. Congressman Sanders is a co-sponsor of the "NAFTA Accountability Act," which demands that the United States withdraw from NAFTA if the proponents' promises for the trade agreement are not met. Some of the provisions in the act include: directing the President to renegotiate NAFTA if the U.S. trade balance with any of the other parties exceeds a 10 percent deficit; requiring certification of U.S. jobs and living standards attributable to NAFTA; ensuring that conditions affecting public health have improved along the U.S.-Mexican border; requiring that exports from the U.S. to NAFTA parties exceed imports from NAFTA parties; certifying that human and political rights are respected and that democratic systems exist in countries that are parties to NAFTA; and prohibiting expansion of NAFTA until the above and other standards are achieved.

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