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.
Exclude basic foods from the agreement.
Recognize and guarantee the right to maintain food security and food
Promote environmentally sustainable production and rural development,
eliminating dumping, one of the principal causes of massive
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
Regulate and introduce disincentives for speculative investments.
9. Intellectual Property Rights
Negotiate genuine agreements for the transfer of technology and
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
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)
Red Mexicana de Accion frente al Libre Comercio (RMALC)
Réseau québécois sur l'Intégration continentale (RQIC)
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, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org; John Dillon, Common
Frontiers-Canada, (416) 463-5312 ext. 231; email@example.com; In
Mexico: Alberto Arroyo Picard (Spanish), Alejandro Villamar (English), Red
Mexicana de Accion Frente al Libre Comercio (RMALC), (52) (55) 5356-0599,
firstname.lastname@example.org; Alberto Arroyo Picard, Red Mexicana de Accion Frente al
Libre Comercio (RMALC), (52) (55) 5356-0599; email@example.com; In
the United States: Tom Loudon, Quixote Center, (301) 699-0024,