NFU Urges Smooth, Transparent Transition to a Fair Trade Framework
WASHINGTON – Trade representatives from the United States, Canada and Mexico will meet here today to begin an official renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The renegotiation provides the Trump Administration with an opportunity to fulfill one of the president’s top campaign promises – a reset of the U.S. trade agenda.
National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson urged the administration to restore balanced trade and domestic sovereignty that have been traded away in past agreements, noting NFU has long supported a transition to a fair trade framework.
“For decades, farming and rural communities across the country have suffered lost jobs, lowered wages, and fleeting economic liberty as a result of our nation’s free trade agenda,” said Johnson. “The Trump Administration must use this opportunity to reset that agenda by instituting a new, fair trade framework that works for family farmers, ranchers, and rural residents. NFU urges them to do so in a fashion that is transparent to the American public and does not upset the positive trade relations the U.S. agriculture community relies upon.”
Over the past several decades, the United States entered into free trade agreements with 20 countries, maintaining a trade agreement framework that advanced the interests of multinational corporations at the expense of family farmers, ranchers, and rural workers. This free trade framework began with the U.S. entering into NAFTA in 1994.
“NAFTA established a set of trade parameters that have benefitted corporate America at the expense of rural American communities and economies,” said Johnson.
Johnson noted that NAFTA was the first U.S. trade agreement to include the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) arbitration procedure, which allows foreign companies to sue governments over laws that undermine their profits. These suits go before foreign tribunals, and their results can ultimately dictate U.S. laws.
“Provisions like ISDS tip the scales in favor of multinational corporations, consolidating money and power into the hands of few. They need to be eliminated through this renegotiation process to support vibrant family farm operations and rural communities,” he said.
Johnson noted the president also has the opportunity to restore facets of U.S. sovereignty, like the ability to implement Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) on meat products. Just two years ago, a challenge from Canada and Mexico ultimately convinced Congress to repeal the COOL law, which was supported by more than 90 percent of American consumers.
“We can not allow the interests of foreign governments and multinational corporations to dictate our laws here at home,” said Johnson. “The repeal of COOL is a perfect example of just how much of our sovereignty we’ve traded away through trade deals. This issue must be addressed in the NAFTA renegotiation. Any provisions keeping the U.S. from instituting COOL or any other commonsense law need to be struck from all of our trade agreements moving forward.”
“National Farmers Union supports the President’s stated intent to reset our flawed trade agenda,” said Johnson. “We will remain adamant that this process must produce a fair trade framework that balances trade and benefits the livelihoods of all Americans.”
National Farmers Union has been working since 1902 to protect and enhance the economic well-being and quality of life for family farmers, ranchers and rural communities through advocating grassroots-driven policy positions adopted by its membership.