Round one is scheduled to run through Sunday August 20th. Generally speaking the key negotiators are not presenting too much public information as the larger objectives of the first round are structured around the bigger issues of the agreement itself, and not the individual economic sectors which follow.
The potential for an agreement still appears around a level “3” on a ten point scale.
On the positive side for those who follow the U.S. Trade Team, you might enjoy hearing that the crony-capitalistic lobbying group, The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, has been significantly reduced. U.S. CoC President Tom Donohue attempts to put his best face forward amid his diminished ability to influence actual policy:
“[…] In the next weeks and months, negotiators will tackle these issues and many more, and the Chamber will be paying close attention. We believe modernization of NAFTA is a reasonable and achievable goal, but it must be done carefully to preserve market access for U.S. companies.”
“The Chamber was a strong voice for the American business community during the original NAFTA negotiations 25 years ago, and we welcome the opportunity to update the agreement.”(link)
Yeah, the fact that the U.S. CoC constructed the corrupt, and highly political, 1994 NAFTA agreement doesn’t portend too well there Mr. Donohue. :::spit::::
Additionally, the ever virtuous Canadian team pressured to have “freedom of the press” included in any new NAFTA trade agreement. Apparently the Canadian influence continues toward a social justice manifesto within the actual trade deal. Previously Canada announced their primary trade objectives around transgender rights, cultural sensitivity and climate change.
CTH freely admits it sounds weird, but currently it appears that Canadian trade and economic perspectives are heavily invested in social justice-type issues.
CANADA – Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said yesterday’s opening day of work was more about setting the table ahead of the long, hard slog of sorting through all the details. Freeland says the detail work will be particularly important, because she and her American and Mexican counterparts are renegotiating a trade pact that is already in force and upon which so much of our economy is based. She likens it to renovating a house while you’re still living in it. (pdf release)
On the Mexican team side, they appear more interested in maintaining the “status quo”, which is a little odd until you realize Mexican politics benefits Mexican officials and not the Mexican people itself. As such all of the visible cues from Mexican Trade officials are geared toward maintaining a top-down multinational corporatist system we have previously described. –SEE HERE–
Meanwhile the average Mexican worker sees zero benefit to the deal according to the principles espoused by Mexico’s trade team.
It’s an odd dynamic because U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross has proposed the NAFTA renegotiations include increases to the minimum wages of Mexican workers. Mexican officials are looking out for Mexican officials, and Wilbur Ross is trying to help Mexican workers. It really is an unusual dynamic.
EL PASO – As negotiations began this week to revise the North Ameican Free Trade Agreement, leaders from both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border gathered in El Paso and Juarez to urge negotiators to do no harm to the economic power of the 23-year-old treaty, and to also discuss how the two countries’ long-binational relationship can be enhanced despite strained relations caused by President Donald Trump’s election.
Trump changed the political, cultural and social landscape of the United States-Mexico relationship, Chihuahau Gov. Javier Corral told more than 200 people Thursday at the Cibeles convention center in Juarez during the second day of the two-day U.S.-Mexico Border Summit.
But, he said, “The links that join us are indestructible.”
Events like the summit help to “keep building bridges and not walls” between the two countries, he said.
Modernizing, but not hurting NAFTA and trying to get Washington politicians and others across the United States to understand the importance of Mexico and the border for the nation’s economy were themes of the two-day summit, which began Wednesday at the Downtown El Paso convention center, where about 500 people attended. (link)
[…] “The great loser in these last 23 years has been Mexico, above all, the small farmers,” said Ernesto Ladron de Guevara, speaking for one peasant farmers union at a park across from Mexico’s Foreign Ministry.
His union is pushing for NAFTA’s fate to face a public vote, possibly to coincide with next year’s July presidential election and, if the deal survives, wants it to exclude anything related to agriculture and food production.
Mexico now imports some $18.5 billion of agriculture products every year, making it one of the most important markets for U.S. farmers.
That makes U.S. rural states key supporters of the pact, making it harder for Trump to follow his declared instinct to rip it up in favor U.S. blue-collar workers who feel jobs have flooded south.
While some Mexican agriculture such as large-scale livestock farms and horticulture has flourished under NAFTA, others, especially small scale grains producers, have found it hard to compete with U.S. imports.
“The effects of the treaty have been negative for the country’s indigenous people,” said Jose Narro Cespedes, a small farmers’ representative.
Other protesters emphasized that Mexico needs to pay attention to itself, rather than outside trade partners.
“We need to focus on the internal economy,” said Galindo. “We’re a sweat-shop country, and the whole world knows it. The only thing we’re doing is exporting.” (read more)
For those who understand how modern trade has been taken over by multinational corporations and multinational financial interests, all would agree the concerns of the individual farmer are 100% valid. –Explained Here–
The BIG Ag corporations now control the entire international market; and with that control they control the pricing, flow of product, harvest and domestic supply within each participating nation.
The massive corporate conglomerates represent less than 20% of farms and businesses, yet they produce 70% of all products. These Big Ag entities control the supply and price of food products, there is no such thing as a “free market”.
A strong article in NPR presents the problems for all three national sides of the farming equation. Ultimately, what most people don’t realize is that farmers, and eventually consumers, are being exploited by multinational corporations.
Mexican, Canadian and American national farmers are fighting against multinational corporations who are controlling every aspect of the food production, and manipulating the supply side -via exports- to maximize their profits within each individual nation.
[…] Whether or not it was the primary culprit, NAFTA certainly hasn’t altered the steady rise in farm concentration. Trade expanded the total size of the pie, as the Farm Bureau points out: U.S. agricultural exports to Mexico and Canada jumped from $8.9 billion in 1993 to over $38 billion today. Yet, critics point out, the largest farms control most of the slices, with 20 percent of farms operating 70 percent of U.S. farmland. Between 2013 and 2016, 42,000 farms ceased operations, according to USDA data.
The National Farmers Union, the second-largest farmers organization, highlights this disparity. “The net effect of trade agreements like NAFTA is to put more power, more authority with the large multinational companies and by extension, take that power away from family farmers,” says Farmers Union President Roger Johnson.
The world’s major meat packers, Johnson pointed out, operate cross-border in Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, taking production wherever costs are the lowest – which is precisely the criticism Trump has made of companies moving American jobs to Mexico. In a similar example, some of the tomato and berry imports Florida growers complain about are actually produced by U.S. companies operating in Mexico.
“I think there is a parallel [in agriculture] to what we see with manufacturing,” says Karen Hansen-Kuhn, director of trade and global governance at the Institute for Agriculture & Trade Policy, a progressive think tank. “The farm bill and trade policies — but especially NAFTA — are geared around the idea that farmers should get big or get out and depend on export markets to make their ends meet. That undermines farmers who are trying to produce for a smaller scale, who are trying to produce more sustainably.”
The view from Mexico – But if some U.S. farmers feel like they’ve been hurt under the trade deal, it’s not as if trading partners are enriching themselves. In Mexico, the poverty rate hovered at 53 percent as of 2014 (the latest numbers available), according to The World Bank. Around 2 million Mexican farmers have lost their land in the NAFTA era, and many recently took to the streets of Mexico City to protest the trade agreement.
Mexico’s traditional subsistence agriculture has shifted to large-scale produce operations in the north, while Mexican livestock production has industrialized as multinational companies like Tyson, Cargill and Pilgrim’s Pride have opened up operations.
Meanwhile, nearly half of Mexico’s food is imported from abroad, much of it from the United States. That includes corn, which is both a staple food and a religious symbol for the indigenous population — yet today, most of Mexico’s corn comes from the U.S. Midwest. In 2016 alone, the U.S. shipped $2.6 billion worth of the stuff to its southern neighbor — its largest export market — mostly for livestock feed.
“The upshot is you have a country that was practically self-sufficient in corn, its staple food crops, is now highly dependent on imports to feed itself,” says Laura Carlsen, director of the Americas Program at the Center for International Policy in Mexico City.
Market power and monopolies – To complicate the picture even more, the World Trade Organization, which was established in 1994 to accelerate globalization, has had a major impact on farmers in all three NAFTA countries.
“NAFTA and the WTO were designed to make it easier for people to set up big corporations and take those big corporations into neighboring states,” says Barry Lynn, director of the Open Markets program and a senior fellow at the New America Foundation. “[The agreements] were designed to make it harder to fight monopolies.”
Just look at the meat industry, says Lynn. Today, only four companies in the U.S. control 85 percent of the beef industry, and the largest of them — JBS — is Brazilian. JBS, which is backed by the Brazilian state bank, runs Pilgrim’s Pride, a chicken company with operations in the U.S. and Mexico, as well as Swift Foods, a multinational beef and pork processor. (read more)
Most American voters think farming looks like this:
However, in reality, 2017 farming looks like this: