By JEAN ALLAIN
(reprinted from issue no. 159 of Tribune des Travailleurs / Workers Tribune)
A “magnificent new trade agreement.” This is how Donald Trump characterized the United States – Mexico – Canada Agreement, or USMCA, that was signed September 30. It replaces the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), signed in 1994 by the governments of these three countries — an agreement that has served over the past 24 years as an instrument in the hands of the U.S. capitalists and a lever in the offshoring of industrial jobs to Mexico. Trump had promised to “renegotiate” NAFTA.
Capitulation of the Canadian government
If Trump is pleased it is because the agreement is the result of the Canadian government’s capitulation to its blackmail. The agreement gives U.S. capitalists access to 3.5% of the Canadian dairy market, which is worth $16 billion. This will mean ruin for thousands of dairy producers, particularly in Quebec.
In exchange, the Canadian government “gets” the promise that the United States will not tax its automobile imports (at least for the time being). That’s about all. It was out of the question to challenge Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum imported from Canada.
For the Canadian newspaper Le Devoir (October 5), Canada has been “shaken by the violence of its U.S. neighbor in these negotiations.” According to an opinion survey, the percentage of Canadian citizens with a good opinion of the United States has dropped to 39%.
What about Mexico? According to a professor at the University of Québec, “the stricter rules” are aimed at “forcing the repatriation of at least some of the jobs from Mexico to the United States.” NAFTA had ravaged Mexico’s agriculture, the USMCA could lead to its deindustrialization.
The U.S. trade representative did not only negotiate this agreement with outgoing Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. Also present in the final rounds of the negotiations as an “observer” was Jesus Seade, the trade representative of President-elect Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador, who will take office on December 1. “We applaud and support this agreement,” stated Seade. “It will provide security and stability to Mexico’s trade with its partners.”
Opening the Mexican economy more widely to U.S. transnational corporations
Is this why millions of Mexican workers, peasants, and youth voted massively for López Obrador on July 2? Absolutely not, stated dozens of Mexican unionists and activists workers who endorsed an Open Letter to Andrés Manuel López Obrador and the legislators of his MORENA party:
“This new treaty [USMCA] will serve to further open our economy for the sole benefit of U.S. transnational corporations, with an even greater subordination of our government to U.S. foreign policy directives and its internal security and anti-migrant dictates. These have already been expressed in the building of the Wall of Shame along the northern border, the militarization of our country, and the separation of families. … We call on you to reject this agreement so that we can begin to reclaim our sovereignty.”
Uniting workers and their organizations from Mexico, the United States. and Canada can only be forged on the basis of the rejection of this USMCA treaty, the refusal to accept the looting by the U.S. transnational corporation, and the fight against the Wall of Shame and for workers’ rights for all.