NAFTA Labor and Environment Fixes off the Table

April 21, 2009

(ChattahBox)—Canada‚Äôs major newspaper, the Globe and Mail is reporting today that the Obama administration is not likely to push for a renegotiation of NAFTA to strengthen labor and environment provisions, much to the dismay of U.S. labor unions. According to U.S. Trade Representative Ronald Kirk, President Obama plans to strengthen the NAFTA agreements between the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Labor and environmental protections will likely continue to be pursued by the weakly enforced side agreements.

The three NAFTA countries, the U.S., Mexico and Canada recently met at the weekend Summit of the Americas in Trinidad, to discuss the continued viability of the NAFTA agreement. Trade Rep. Kirk said all three leaders “are of the mind we should look for opportunities to strengthen NAFTA.”

President Obama spoke during his presidential campaign, for an overhaul of NAFTA to move the labor and environment side agreements into the main body of the document. The political realities of moving major NAFTA changes through Congress, have apparently left labor and environmental interests out in the cold.

The AFL-CIO and Canadian Labor Congress sent a joint letter to both President Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper, before the recent Summit of the Americas calling on the leaders to review and renegotiate NAFTA to protect the rights of workers. Obama received strong support from labor unions during his campaign.

Mexico and Canada are not agreeable to renegotiating NAFTA, believing it’s working just fine the way it is. Labor and environmental groups are not going to be happy with Obama’s decision to leave NAFTA alone.

Obama will need to secure cooperation from Mexico and Canada to enforce current labor and environment side agreements or even, rewrite the side agreements to give them more teeth.

Obama must also face critics of any changes to NAFTA, opposed to more protectionist measures favored by the unions. President Obama is going to need all of his negotiating skills and political capital to side-step criticism from all sides of the NAFTA issue.


2 Responses to “NAFTA Labor and Environment Fixes off the Table”

  1. GreekIslesCasino on April 21st, 2009 12:35 pm

    Interesting post!

  2. Keeping Green » NAFTA Labor and Environment Fixes off the Table | ChattahBox News Blog on April 21st, 2009 7:57 pm

    […] more here: NAFTA Labor and Environment Fixes off the Table | ChattahBox News Blog Share and […]

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