By Manuel Perez-Rocha and Stuart Trew
July 26, 2012
The United States recently announced that Canada and Mexico will join negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)—a secretive U.S.-led multinational trade and investment agreementcurrently being negotiated with eight other countries in the Pacific Rim region.
On the other side of the Pacific, Japanese legislators are defecting in droves to try to stop the country’s entry into the negotiations. But the situation is much different in Canada and Mexico, which were admitted to the table with much fanfare during the G20 summit in June. The Japanese response is justifiable, and a recent statement of solidarity against the TPP by North American unions offers a good building block for resisting an agreement that for Mexicans and Canadians amounts to a neoliberal expansion of NAFTA on U.S. President Barack Obama’s terms.
Mexico and Canada had been trying to secure a spot at the TPP table for months prior to the G20, and it became a leading story in both countries. Their anxiety played nicely into Obama’s hands, allowing the U.S. trade representative to put humiliating entry conditions on both countries — essentially giving these NAFTA neighbors a second-rate status, or what in Spanish is called convidados de palo (to be invited but without a say). Neither Canada nor Mexico will be able to see any TPP text until they finally join the negotiations in December, following the required 90-day U.S. congressional approval process. Once at the table, they will not be able to make any changes to the finished text or propose any new text in the finished chapters. There is a very real possibility that the existing TPP countries, the United States in particular, will use the following months to fashion a trap for the TPP latecomers.
North American Labor SolidarityWhile most media outlets welcomed the NAFTA partners to the TPP table, national labor federations from the United States, Mexico, and Canada were cautious for very good reasons, and it wasn’t just the obviously imbalanced negotiating dynamic. On July 11, the AFL-CIO, the Canadian Labour Congress, and the National Union of Workers (UNT) of Mexico outlined some of those reasons in an important statement of solidarity, which included a vision of what they believe a 21st-centry trade agreement should look like.
Continue reading at: http://www.fpif.org/articles/dont_expand_nafta