Unions, Consumer Groups and Congressional Democrats Forced Trump to Reopen and Fix His Corporate-rigged 2018 NAFTA 2.0 Deal
Donald Trump betrayed his promises to fix the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The NAFTA 2.0 deal Trump signed in 2018 added new monopoly protections for Big Pharma to lock in high medicine prices, and its labor and environmental terms would not have counteracted NAFTA’s ongoing outsourcing of jobs and pollution and downward pressure on wages. For a year, as the NAFTA trade deficit exploded, Trump blocked progress on fixing NAFTA, refusing to make changes so a new deal might reduce NAFTA’s ongoing damage to people and the environment throughout North America.
Congressional Democrats used their majority in the House of Representatives to insist on changes: Speaker Pelosi announced there would be no vote unless labor and environmental terms were strengthened and the Big Pharma goodies were eliminated. A Working Group including fair trade champion Rep. Rosa DeLauro negotiated with the administration. Campaigners nationwide intensified two years of NAFTA Replacement efforts – meetings with their representatives, rallies, protests and more.
In late 2019, Trump finally agreed to improve the deal. That new NAFTA is better than the original and might reduce some of its ongoing damage. But it won’t bring back hundreds of thousands of jobs, as Trump nonsensically claims. Nothing makes that clearer than U.S. auto manufacturers’ recent announcements that they plan to expand production in Mexico.
Although the new deal still includes problematic terms, the alternative is status quo NAFTA, not a more improved deal. The unusually large, bipartisan December 19, 2019 House vote (386 yes – 41 no) shows that to be politically viable, U.S. trade pacts no longer can include extreme corporate investor privileges or broad Big Pharma monopoly protections and must have enforceable labor and environmental terms.
The new NAFTA is not a template for future agreements. Rather, it sets the floor from which we will continue to fight for good trade policies that put working people and the planet first.