Canadian trade union comes out against NAFTA


It looks as though President Trump is not alone in lambasting the trade agreement he once described as “one of the worst economic deals ever made by our country.” Unifor, Canada’s largest private-sector trade union, said on Monday that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) should be dissolved if Mexico does not intervene to bring its wages into line with Canadian and U.S. pay packages. The three countries are currently in the process of renegotiating the 1994 trade accord signed by Bill Clinton.

Mexican officials rejected the idea outright, insisting that domestic wages would automatically rise as the nation’s economy develops. They also argued that the advantages the country currently benefits from compared to its wealthier partners would progressively evaporate.

Meanwhile, Jerry Dias, the national president of the Canadian union, pointed out that from the onset NAFTA had always been a “lousy trade agreement for working-class people.” He also encouraged the Canadian government to ditch the talks if a much fairer trade agreement could not be negotiated.

“If labor standards are not part of a trade deal, then there shouldn’t be a trade deal,” Dias told the press.

However, the president of the Mexican Consejo Nacional Agropecuario, Bosco de la Vega Valladolid, strongly rejected any form of labor market intervention.

“Mexico can’t interfere in the labor market issue in the United States and Canada. We ask the same: that they don’t interfere in these matters,” the chief of the Mexican National Agricultural Council told reporters.

Last Thursday, Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo insisted that Mexico and Canada would continue trading under NAFTA, even if the U.S. decided to walk away.

“NAFTA will continue to regulate the relationship between Mexico and Canada,” he stressed at the time. But things are not looking as rosy for Mexico now as they did just a few days ago.

As soon as he entered the White House, President Trump signaled his intention to renegotiate or even pull out of the trade deal. Later on, both Canada and Mexico stated that they were ready to update and renegotiate the accord when the Trump administration formally informed Congress of its intentions on May 18.

Further talks should be held at the end of the month although NAFTA is unlikely to have been revamped by the end of the year as originally planned. Indeed, officials were hoping that the talks could be wrapped up well ahead of the November mid-term elections next year and the Mexican presidential ballot due to be held next July.