Many on the Left have been deeply critical of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) since before it was fast-tracked into law by former President Bill Clinton in 1994. Now, President Donald Trump’s current plan to renegotiate NAFTA is poised to make the massive trade deal even worse.
In late May, a loose coalition of civil society groups gathered in Mexico City to discuss this upcoming renegotiation. Participants included the AFL-CIO, Canadian Labour Congress and over one hundred other labor, environmental, and immigrant rights organizations from across Mexico, the United States and Canada.
The meeting produced a joint declaration opposing a Trump-led NAFTA renegotiation and marked the kickoff of the latest international campaign against free-trade deals that benefit corporations and political elites at the expense of workers, communities and our shared environment.
NAFTA’s legacy is marred by lost jobs, lower wages, increased inequality and a litany of environmentally destructive practices. While the people who gathered in Mexico City have long opposed NAFTA for its pro-corporate bent, a consensus emerged that President Trump and his team are cooking up something even worse.
Two questions follow from this judgment: What can we do to stop Trump, and how can we use the moment to challenge the powerful interests that he represents?
The Dangers of a Trump-led Renegotiation
Trump campaigned and won the US presidential election in no small part due to his anti-free-trade positions. He galvanized millions of voters for whom the considerable promises of globalization have long since given way to the stark realities of rising inequality and declining living standards.
After assuming the presidency,…