January 24, 2008
For Immediate Release

NAFTA MUST BE RENEGOTIATED
A proposal from North American civil society networks

Politicians throughout North America (Canada, Mexico and the United States) are beginning to recognize what the majority of citizens already know - the North American Free Trade Agreement’s (NAFTA) promises have not been fulfilled and new policies are urgently needed.

As a result of widespread public concern, various candidates for the Presidency of the United States recognize the necessity for major changes to NAFTA. Recently, several members of the House of Representatives have introduced a bill requiring an assessment of NAFTA, renegotiation of some provisions and providing for US withdrawal unless certain conditions are met.

The Permanent Commission of the Mexican Congress, as well as several State Governors, echoing the wide-spread demand of well-organized campesino organizations, is demanding a revision of NAFTA given the devastation it has caused for agriculture and its harmful effects on the rural population.

Similarly, a Canadian Parliamentary Sub-Committee on International Trade recommended that the Permanent Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade undertake a comprehensive review of NAFTA Chapter 11 on Investment and Chapter 19 on trade disputes.

We four civil society networks from Canada, Mexico, Quebec and the United States believe that it is absolutely necessary to profoundly revise NAFTA beginning with those aspects that have proven most damaging for the human rights of our peoples and for the environment.

At the same time we reject the deepening of neoliberal continental integration as promoted by the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP).

Any just trade agreement among our countries must consider the enormous economic inequalities that exist between Mexico, the United States and Canada. This is not the case with NAFTA.

The revision of the terms of this treaty must have as its objective the establishment of economic relations based on social justice and sovereignty within a paradigm of sustainable development. In this brief declaration we cannot mention all the necessary revisions. Here we only point to ten priorities for the required renegotiation of NAFTA.

 

1. Agriculture

Exclude basic foods from the agreement.

Recognize and guarantee the right to maintain food security and food sovereignty.

Promote environmentally sustainable production and rural development, eliminating dumping, one of the principal causes of massive migration.

2. Energy

Safeguard sovereignty over natural resources, especially energy and its use for just and sustainable national development.
Respect the Mexican Constitution which establishes that energy resources are the social property of all Mexicans.

Eliminate Article 605 that obligates Canada to continue exporting non-renewable resources, such as petroleum and natural gas, to the United States even if these exports cause a domestic shortage.

3. Foreign Investment

Regulation of foreign investment is indispensable so that it may play a role in sustainable national development and so that each country achieves its own kind of development.

Establish, among others the following minimum performance requirements: transfer of technology; give preference to national inputs, employment generation and environmental protection.

Eliminate the “investor-state” clauses that give investors the right to sue governments to obtain compensation for measures taken in the public interest that might impair their profits.

4. Role of the State

Renegotiate Chapters 10 and 15 to lift restrictions now imposed on national states that prevent them from fulfilling their responsibilities to guarantee the full economic, social and political rights of their peoples.

5. Employment

Demand that the rules of origin include a percentage of national content within the regional content rules to achieve higher growth and more jobs.

Technology transfers, use of national inputs and employment generation must be the criteria for choosing suppliers for government procurement contracts.
Recourse to emergency measures and safeguards are important for maintaining national control over economic development.

Guarantee the fundamental rights of workers, which calls for the inclusion
of concrete labour rights measures in all chapters of the accord. NAFTA´s labor side agreement has failed to resolve the violations of workers rights.

6. Migration

National development plans must provide well paying jobs so that no one is obliged to migrate in order to find work. International treaties should protect this right, unlike NAFTA which has not been able to generate more and better jobs as were promised.

Achieve a global agreement on migration that doesn’t focus solely on business people or certain professions. The focus should be on holistic accords regarding a migratory workers and the full satisfaction of their rights.

7. Environment

Explicitly recognize the priority of Multilateral Environmental Agreements signed by each country and guarantee their fulfillment.

Include measures to “internalize” environmental costs in order to stop the irrational overuse of resources and pollution from economic activities. Trade incentives must be changed in order to make sustainable development viable.

Explicitly prohibit the production and import of insecticides, fungicides and toxic substances that are prohibited in their country of origin.

Explicitly prohibits the exports of fresh water by whatever means and the privatization of water as a public service.

8. Financial Services

Restore the ability of nation states to direct financial resources to national priorities.

Regulate and introduce disincentives for speculative investments.

9. Intellectual Property Rights

Negotiate genuine agreements for the transfer of technology and knowledge.

Allow the production of generic medicines in each country in order to guarantee the right to health care.

Introduce specific measures for alternative medicines and traditional knowledge, in particular on the part of indigenous communities, in order to limit their exploitation and their appropriation by large transnational corporations.

10. Dispute Settlement Provisions

A new impartial, just and compulsory mechanism for dispute settlement is needed that is available to all the member countries.

NAFTA was imposed undemocratically on our peoples. Civil society in all three countries demands its renegotiation as reflected in the US election campaign, in strong mobilizations within Mexico and in protests at the most recent Security and Prosperity Partnership summit at Montebello, Quebec. It will be one of the focal points for the Global Week of Action throughout the region, as called by the World Social Forum (WSF). We four networks from North America renew our commitment to a struggle that began with the negotiation of the Canada-US Free Trade Agreement twenty years ago. We demand that the executive branches of our governments listen to their peoples and their Parliamentarians. We shall watch vigilantly how US Presidential candidates fulfill their campaign promises.

Another world is possible and necessary: a world in which peoples’ rights prevail over corporate profits.

 

January 2008

Quixote Center (USA)

Common Frontiers-Canada

Red Mexicana de Acción frente al Libre Comercio (RMALC)

Réseau québécois sur l’Intégration continentale (RQIC)


Common Frontiers, le Réseau québécois sur l’Intégration continentale (RQIC), the Mexican Action Network on Free Trade (RMALC), and the Quixote Center (USA) are all members of the Hemispheric Social Alliance, a network that has played a central role in opposing ‘free trade’ negotiations throughout the Americas. The four North American coalitions are representative of a range of organizations including church groups, labour, student unions, women’s groups, environmental organizations, international development agencies, human rights and other social justice advocates.

 

For more information:

In Quebec and Canada:

Normand Pépin
Réseau québécois sur l'Intégration continentale (RQIC)
Tél. (514) 899-1070 poste 228 / (514) 217-6529; pepinn@csd.qc.ca / rqic@ciso.qc.ca

John Dillon
Common Frontiers-Canada
Tel. (416) 463-5312 ext. 231; jdillon@kairoscanada.org

 

In Mexico:

Alberto Arroyo Picard (Spanish) / Alejandro Villamar (English)
Red Mexicana de Acción Frente al Libre Comercio (RMALC)
Tel. (52) (55) 5356-0599; rmalc@prodigy.net.mx
Tel. (52) (55) 5356-0599; alberto.arroyo@prodigy.net.mx

 

In the United States:

Tom Loudon
Quixote Center
Tel. (301) 699-0024   toml@quixote.org