NAFTA must be renegotiated - A proposal from North American civil society networks



    OTTAWA, Jan. 30 /CNW Telbec/ - Politicians throughout North America
(Canada, Mexico and the United States) are beginning to recognize what the
majority of citizens already know - the North American Free Trade Agreement's
(NAFTA) promises have not been fulfilled and new policies are urgently needed.
    As a result of widespread public concern, various candidates for the
Presidency of the United States recognize the necessity for major changes to
NAFTA. Recently, several members of the House of Representatives have
introduced a bill requiring an assessment of NAFTA, renegotiation of some
provisions and providing for US withdrawal unless certain conditions are met.
    The Permanent Commission of the Mexican Congress, as well as several
State Governors, echoing the wide-spread demand of well-organized campesino
organizations, is demanding a revision of NAFTA given the devastation it has
caused for agriculture and its harmful effects on the rural population.
    Similarly, a Canadian Parliamentary Sub-Committee on International Trade
recommended that the Permanent Committee on Foreign Affairs and International
Trade undertake a comprehensive review of NAFTA Chapter 11 on Investment and
Chapter 19 on trade disputes.
    We four civil society networks from Canada, Mexico, Quebec and the United
States believe that it is absolutely necessary to profoundly revise NAFTA
beginning with those aspects that have proven most damaging for the human
rights of our peoples and for the environment.
    At the same time we reject the deepening of neoliberal continental
integration as promoted by the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP).
    Any just trade agreement among our countries must consider the enormous
economic inequalities that exist between Mexico, the United States and Canada.
This is not the case with NAFTA.
    The revision of the terms of this treaty must have as its objective the
establishment of economic relations based on social justice and sovereignty
within a paradigm of sustainable development. In this brief declaration we
cannot mention all the necessary revisions. Here we only point to ten
priorities for the required renegotiation of NAFTA.

    
    1.  Agriculture

        Exclude basic foods from the agreement.

        Recognize and guarantee the right to maintain food security and food
        sovereignty.

        Promote environmentally sustainable production and rural development,
        eliminating dumping, one of the principal causes of massive
        migration.

    2.  Energy

        Safeguard sovereignty over natural resources, especially energy and
        its use for just and sustainable national development.

        Respect the Mexican Constitution which establishes that energy
        resources are the social property of all Mexicans.

        Eliminate Article 605 that obligates Canada to continue exporting
        non-renewable resources, such as petroleum and natural gas, to the
        United States even if these exports cause a domestic shortage.

    3.  Foreign Investment

        Regulation of foreign investment is indispensable so that it may play
        a role in sustainable national development and so that each country
        achieves its own kind of development.

        Establish, among others the following minimum performance
        requirements: transfer of technology; give preference to national
        inputs, employment generation and environmental protection.

        Eliminate the "investor-state" clauses that give investors the right
        to sue governments to obtain compensation for measures taken in the
        public interest that might impair their profits.

    4.  Role of the State

        Renegotiate Chapters 10 and 15 to lift restrictions now imposed on
        national states that prevent them from fulfilling their
        responsibilities to guarantee the full economic, social and political
        rights of their peoples.

    5.  Employment

        Demand that the rules of origin include a percentage of national
        content within the regional content rules to achieve higher growth
        and more jobs.

        Technology transfers, use of national inputs and employment
        generation must be the criteria for choosing suppliers for government
        procurement contracts.

        Recourse to emergency measures and safeguards are important for
        maintaining national control over economic development.

        Guarantee the fundamental rights of workers, which calls for the
        inclusion of concrete labour rights measures in all chapters of the
        accord. NAFTA's labor side agreement has failed to resolve the
        violations of workers rights.

    6.  Migration

        National development plans must provide well paying jobs so that no
        one is obliged to migrate in order to find work. International
        treaties should protect this right, unlike NAFTA which has not been
        able to generate more and better jobs as were promised.

        Achieve a global agreement on migration that doesn't focus solely on
        business people or certain professions. The focus should be on
        holistic accords regarding a migratory workers and the full
        satisfaction of their rights.

    7.  Environment

        Explicitly recognize the priority of Multilateral Environmental
        Agreements signed by each country and guarantee their fulfillment.

        Include measures to "internalize" environmental costs in order to
        stop the irrational overuse of resources and pollution from economic
        activities. Trade incentives must be changed in order to make
        sustainable development viable.

        Explicitly prohibit the production and import of insecticides,
        fungicides and toxic substances that are prohibited in their country
        of origin.

        Explicitly prohibits the exports of fresh water by whatever means and
        the privatization of water as a public service.


    8.  Financial Services

        Restore the ability of nation states to direct financial resources to
        national priorities.

        Regulate and introduce disincentives for speculative investments.

    9.  Intellectual Property Rights

        Negotiate genuine agreements for the transfer of technology and
        knowledge.

        Allow the production of generic medicines in each country in order to
        guarantee the right to health care.

        Introduce specific measures for alternative medicines and traditional
        knowledge, in particular on the part of indigenous communities, in
        order to limit their exploitation and their appropriation by large
        transnational corporations.

    10. Dispute Settlement Provisions

        A new impartial, just and compulsory mechanism for dispute settlement
        is needed that is available to all the member countries.
    

    NAFTA was imposed undemocratically on our peoples. Civil society in all
three countries demands its renegotiation as reflected in the US election
campaign, in strong mobilizations within Mexico and in protests at the most
recent Security and Prosperity Partnership summit at Montebello, Quebec. It
will be one of the focal points for the Global Week of Action throughout the
region, as called by the World Social Forum (WSF). We four networks from North
America renew our commitment to a struggle that began with the negotiation of
the Canada-US Free Trade Agreement twenty years ago. We demand that the
executive branches of our governments listen to their peoples and their
Parliamentarians. We shall watch vigilantly how US Presidential candidates
fulfill their campaign promises.

    Another world is possible and necessary: a world in which peoples' rights
prevail over corporate profits.

    Quixote Center (USA)
    Common Frontiers-Canada
    Red Mexicana de Accion frente al Libre Comercio (RMALC)
    Réseau québécois sur l'Intégration continentale (RQIC)

    January 2008

    Common Frontiers, le Réseau québécois sur l'Intégration continentale
(RQIC), the Mexican Action Network on Free Trade (RMALC), and the Quixote
Center (USA) are all members of the Hemispheric Social Alliance, a network
that has played a central role in opposing 'free trade' negotiations
throughout the Americas. The four North American coalitions are representative
of a range of organizations including church groups, labour, student unions,
women's groups, environmental organizations, international development
agencies, human rights and other social justice advocates.




For further information:

For further information: In Quebec and Canada: Normand Pépin, Réseau
québécois sur l'Intégration continentale (RQIC), (514) 899-1070 poste 228,
(514) 217-6529, pepinn@csd.qc.ca, rqic@ciso.qc.ca; John Dillon, Common
Frontiers-Canada, (416) 463-5312 ext. 231; jdillon@kairoscanada.org; In
Mexico: Alberto Arroyo Picard (Spanish), Alejandro Villamar (English), Red
Mexicana de Accion Frente al Libre Comercio (RMALC), (52) (55) 5356-0599,
rmalc@prodigy.net.mx; Alberto Arroyo Picard, Red Mexicana de Accion Frente al
Libre Comercio (RMALC), (52) (55) 5356-0599; alberto.arroyo@prodigy.net.mx; In
the United States: Tom Loudon, Quixote Center, (301) 699-0024,
toml@quixote.org


Custom Packages

Browse our custom packages or build your own to meet your unique communications needs.

Start today.

CNW Membership

Fill out a CNW membership form or contact us at 1 (877) 269-7890

Learn about CNW services

Request more information about CNW products and services or call us at 1 (877) 269-7890