US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Tuesday that Democrats and the Trump administration had reached an agreement on the terms of the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).
Howie Hawkins, a candidate for the Green Party nomination for president, issued this statement today in response:
The agreement reached between the Trump administration and Democratic congressional leaders on the terms of the USMCA is an attack on workers, consumers, the environment, and democracy.
It shows why the Green Party needs to run candidates up and down the ballot to advance fair trade policies against the bipartisan, corporate-managed trade policies of the corporate-funded Democratic and Republican parties.
The USMCA is nothing but an updated version of NAFTA, which has been central to the destruction of manufacturing in the US, to the displacement of small farmers in the US and Mexico, and to the devastation of the environment throughout North America.
We need a fair trade agreement, not a new NAFTA.
I object to many provisions of the USMCA:
Deregulation: The USMCA retains the authoritarian Investor-State Dispute Settlement process from NAFTA. This process sets up secretive trade tribunals that include corporations and states and that exclude labor unions and the public. The deregulatory agenda of big business is a central objective of USMCA. It favors corporate agribusiness instead of small farmers working the land in all three countries. It also favors corporate agribusiness instead of consumers on food safety and labeling with respect to additives, processing, GMOs, and country of origin. Labor standards will remain as unenforceable under USMCA as under NAFTA.
Climate Destruction: USMCA is a climate killer by enabling Big Energy corporations to frack the hell out of the whole continent, to build more pipelines and other infrastructure to move oil and gas to refineries and then burn it for power and transportation, and to accelerate the privatization and transfer of Mexico’s fossil fuel industry over to Big Energy.
Intellectual Property: USMCA expands protections for patent and copyright monopolies and highly-paid professionals. These monopoly protections will cost consumers dearly. For example, biologic drugs get 10-year monopolies that delay the production of lower-cost generics and make it harder to lower US drug prices that are the highest in the world.
High-Tech Protections: USMCA rules will further the domination of internet monopolies like Google, Facebook, and Amazon. The USMCA’s new provisions will limit the ability of countries to regulate these giants and the internet itself.
China Clause: USMCA contains a “China clause” that allows any of the three USMCA members to a veto trade deal with China by another member. This continues the trade-war policies of Trump’s tariffs and Obama’s proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
State-Owned Enterprises: Like the TPP, the USMCA contains new provisions against subsidies and other government support for state-owned enterprises (SOEs). The US has always objected to Canadian and Mexican SOEs, but the new provisions also target China’s state-led economic model by denying any Chinese SOE access to the Investor-State Dispute Settlement courts. These anti-SOE provisions are also against the kind of Ecosocialist Green New Deal I have been advocating, which employs federal energy, railroad, manufacturing, internet, and banking enterprises to convert the economy to zero greenhouse gas emissions and 100% clean energy by 2030.
The US should be seeking mutually beneficial trade relations with China (and all countries) instead of trying to build trade-war coalitions against it. As much as China deserves criticism for its authoritarian governance and human rights abuses, the US should seek fair trade relationships with China in order to improve labor and environmental standards within and across our borders and to work together to resolve the life-or-death issues of climate change and the new nuclear arms race.
Trade war is not the way to promote democracy and human rights. It is time to follow the approach that the internationalist democratic revolutionary Thomas Paine articulated in The Crisis, Common Sense, The Rights of Man, and Agrarian Justice. Paine argued that the best way to promote democracy and human rights is to set a good example at home and to spread democratic ideals by engaging the world in commercial and cultural intercourse.
A foreign policy that advances democracy and human rights by example and engagement with the world will not be credible and effective until the US corrects its own deficits in democracy and human rights, from voter suppression, party suppression through onerous ballot access restrictions, and gerrymandered one-party districts to mass surveillance, mass incarceration, and the horrible abuse of immigrants and asylum seekers.