NAFTA or more likely The End of NAFTA

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NAFTA or more likely The End of NAFTA

This is serious shit.

Unless Canadians all across the country stick together the resulting mess in our country might make the Quebec Separation bullshit seem like child's play.

What the end of NAFTA could mean for jobs in western Canada

Opinion: With a significant number of western Canadian jobs linked to exports to the U.S., the region must look for ways to diversify its trade


Curious article in the Star today by Thomas Walkom arguing Trump's positions on Nafta make sense for the left.


For North American auto and steel workers, however, higher content rules could be a benefit.

The point here is not that Trump’s 85 per cent is the right number. It is that his insistence on more North American content is not ridiculous.

Nor is his insistence that auto production be tied somehow to auto sales. That was the theory behind the 1965 auto pact between Canada and the U.S., a pact still lionized on the left.

Trump’s version would require 50 per cent of all NAFTA-qualifying autos to be manufactured in the U.S. It’s a way to staunch the flood of auto manufacturing jobs to low-wage Mexico — a flood that has been denounced by both American and Canadian unions.

Again, the 50 per cent number might be wrong. But the idea — figuring a way to protect good jobs from low-wage competition — is not.

On it goes. Canadians, particularly those on the left, have long denounced NAFTA’s Chapter 11, which gives foreign businesses the right to challenge sovereign governments before so-called investor-state dispute settlement panels.

It has been used successfully numerous times by U.S. firms unhappy with Canadian law.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would keep some version of Chapter 11. Trump would allow governments to opt out.

For critics of NAFTA, Trump’s is obviously the better option. Yet I don’t see him getting much praise."


I'm very curious what  babblers make of this.   I have some familiarity with the basic issues around NAFTA, and followed the news when it was first negotiated, but I'm not good on the details.   I have extended family that worked for GM in Oshawa, and I've been a USW member but never worked in manufacturing or anything to do with automaking.   Is Walkom correct here or is he missing something?

Rev Pesky

Parat of what he's missing is simply that the auto industry in North America is fully integrated. There simply isn't any way to separate it out.

Which leads one to believe that in the case, the manufacturers will prevail, and NAFTA will stay.


Rev Pesky wrote:

Parat of what he's missing is simply that the auto industry in North America is fully integrated. There simply isn't any way to separate it out.

Which leads one to believe that in the case, the manufacturers will prevail, and NAFTA will stay.

Don't we already have content rules?



Yes, from the article -- Trump wants 85% North American content, the current figure in the existing deal is 62.5%.

progressive17 progressive17's picture

One of the problems with this thinking is the fact that there are dozens of countries out there who can sell for an even lower price even when you factor in punitive duties. In these countries, there is not even lip service paid to environmental stewardship, and there is no floor on wages. Any attempts by the local people to demand better are met with governmental repression.

Within or without NAFTA, countries like Mexico will be able to produce more cheaply than the US or especially Canada. Even if domestic wages crawl up in a country like Mexico, they can kill all of that by manipulating the currency.

It is particularly naive for those on the left to think that Donald Trump has the best interests of unionized workers at heart. By opposing NAFTA, he really wants to accelerate the race to the bottom. Trump sees political opportunity in playing the union card, but so did Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini.

One of the appeals of the fascist is that he often sounds like a socialist.


progressive17 wrote:

It is particularly naive for those on the left to think that Donald Trump has the best interests of unionized workers at heart. By opposing NAFTA, he really wants to accelerate the race to the bottom. Trump sees political opportunity in playing the union card, but so did Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini.

One of the appeals of the fascist is that he often sounds like a socialist.

It's not that anyone thinks Trump is doing this for anyone's benefit other than his own. Regardless of his motives killing NAFTA could be a good thing. That's why it will never happen.


An end to NAFTA would not mean an end to Canada-U. S. trade. Most would continue unabated.

It would, however, mean an end to the charade. NAFTA was never a good deal for Canada. Trump has made it impossible.

Rev Pesky

From Pondering:

Don't we already have content rules?

Yes, there are content rules, but they apply only to outside of NAFTA content. For instance, take a BMW X5 which is assembled in North America. A portion of the parts that make up that vehicle may come from Germany. That's where the content rules apply. They do not apply between the states in NAFTA.

The manufacturers are all well aware of the content rules, and act accordingly.  I spent 5 years importing cars into Canada from the USA, and there was only one case where percentage of content came up. It was a Volvo,IIRC. Even in that case it was allowed in without duty.

Sean in Ottawa

Exactly -- the presumption of the trading block was competition within it and not protectionism (except in excluded areas). Therefore content rules woudl be about foreign content (from NAFTA). Now Trump is demanding that NAFT do three things:

1) bring in the exempted areas -- like agriculture -- but only on the Canadian side keeping the US agriculture protected

2) adding content rules that benefit one part of the trade block agaisnt another (namely to advatnage the US against the other two countries.

3) Have the pact governed by US law rather than bi-national arbitration

This was a delicate balance that was debateable in value for Canada. Thisnow makes the deal completely unworkable.

Now the initial concerns about the deal was that the US as a larger party could in future become more of a bully than they already were and that Canada should not enter into a deal creating more dependence.  This has now happened.

The problem for Canada is that we ahve already paid the price in losses to adjust to this deal and the independent business arrangements that Canada had before 1989 are largely gone and those businesses are not going to come back (any more than the jobs Trump pretends will come back to the US).

As I have said before the FTA and nAFTA were arrangmenets that had a high price to get into. Now that they are becoming completely untenable, we are about to see the high price for leaving.

The bottom line is an independent country has to maintain its economic and trade policy to respect that independence or it will pay a significant price.

This is not as true about deals with countries that are closer in power and where there is not a single party more powerful than the rest put together. Europe is seeing difficult times but has the advatnage of having no majority partner. In the case of Europe the second and third biggest economies are more powerful together than the largest. If you let the US participate in any arrangement you need that kind of balance so a deal with Europe and the U or Japan, could have kept them from bullying but NAFTA does not do that. It was a matter of time before the US resorted to naked aggression. Trumps words about Trade to the effect that the larger party calls the shots are declaring economic war on Canada. They are also illustrating why no country on its own, that is much smaller than the US should increase dependence or enter into any arrangement with that country. Part of this dynamic is exactly that simple. The US government is elected by and serves the US people, getting into a situation where you have to chronically trust it to be far in conflicts of interest with its own people is frankly stupid. In this case we have a US government where it is political rather than about the interests of the US as well -- in other words the interests of Canada and the US matter less than the politics for Trump. This exposes the fundemental problem with the mismatch of the sizes of the NAFTA partners in the first place.

Even if Canada survives thisissue in NAFTA with some diplomacy with US states, it does nto fix that mismatch and only postpones the issue.


Free Trade vs Protectionism: Weapon of Mass Distraction

"...Winning often depends on the strength of each side's alliances with and support from the public. To that end, it is not polite for either side to identify its goal as more profits. Instead, each side insists that what it prefers is what is best...The struggle between free trade and protectionism is over which kind of  of capitalism will prevail. It is a struggle chiefly among capitalists..."

Sean in Ottawa

NDPP wrote:

Free Trade vs Protectionism: Weapon of Mass Distraction

"...Winning often depends on the strength of each side's alliances with and support from the public. To that end, it is not polite for either side to identify its goal as more profits. Instead, each side insists that what it prefers is what is best...The struggle between free trade and protectionism is over which kind of  of capitalism will prevail. It is a struggle chiefly among capitalists..."

Hmm I don't agree with this definition either. There are two terms protectionism and free trade. These are not different types of capitalism at all. To say they are is to succumb to their definition.

I will introduce a better term for both -- for the same kind of bully trading: preferentialism.

They seek through trade deals or barriers to create a preference for their product over anothers.

Trump is not protectionist -- he is about bullying and preferentialism. Otherwise he would pull out of NAFTA. He does not mind if NAFTA is there or it is not -- he wants a preference to US product over the product of Mexico and Canada. He does nto care if this comes by having a trade agreement in his favour or a trade barrier.

This is not a preference or difference between types of capitalism but an attemtp to give advatnge to the most powerful which is the core of the one and only capitalism. Don't buy the argument that there is more than one brand to choose from.


Keiser Report: World Order of Chaos (ep 1200)

@13:00  "In the second half, Max interviews professor and author Dr Michael Hudson about Trump's steel tariffs and what they really mean for so-called free-trade deals."

'And as for Canada they've lost out on every kind of agreement they've made since the auto agreement of the 1960s (APTA), with the US...'



epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

NAFTA deal by August?

According to Inside U.S. Trade, a NAFTA ministerial meeting will be held in Washington this Thursday and Friday.  The participation of U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer and outgoing Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo have been confirmed.  Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland will be in Singapore for the ASEAN summit at that time.

Mexican and U.S. negotiators met in Washington on July 26th, and Canadian cabinet ministers and Mexican ministerial officials met last Wednesday in Mexico City.  Lighthizer is said to believe a deal is possible before the end of August.

Remember: in May, after U.S. Senate Speaker Paul Ryan set May 17th as the absolute deadline for a NAFTA deal to go to Congress before midterm elections change the congress, there was also talk of a deal being very close.  At that time, only three of the 20+ chapters had been closed in negotiations with controversial topics such as the sunset clause and automobiles being unresolved.


No details have emerged on what that agreement is, nor whether Canada is included. Inside U.S. Trade indicates that Canadian Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland was not included in the last ministerial and will be in Singapore during this week, and not in Washington.

The Council of Canadians is particularly concerned with the energy and investment chapters.  The energy chapter includes energy proportionality which forces Canada to maintain energy export quotas to the U.S. This prevents us from maintaining our climate change commitments, and providing energy to all Canadians during a crisis.  

It also deals with the investment chapter, or chapter 11, which allows corporations to sue countries over policy decisions.

The three countries are pushing for all of the agreement to be decided by August, which Ryan has set as the new “expiry date” for the deal to go through the U.S. House of Representatives, this year.


'Take it or Leave It': Trump Signals Hard Line as NAFTA Talks Return to Canada

"An agreement between the US and Mexico to renovate key portions of NAFTA is being cast as a near-final deal, with US President Donald Trump signalling his negotiators will take a hard line with Ottawa as talks move to the next stage.

Trump's announcement of the agreement with Mexico - a move that clears the way for Washington to turn its focus to Ottawa and contentious bilateral issues such as dairy supply management - was accompanied by a threat to slap Canada with a 25% tariff on auto imports if the two countries don't reach a deal to revamp the 24-year old trade pact. 'It'll either be a tariff on cars or a negotiated deal,' Trump said..."


NAFTA's Name Change Shows Canada's Weakness

"US President Donald Trump has announced that the North American Free Trade Agreement will now be called the 'US-Mexico Trade Agreement' after shutting Canada out of negotiations for weeks. The Council of Canadians is concerned that this is a sign of an America-first corporate-friendly deal to come. 'Changing the name will not change NAFTA's destructive footprint. It will even make it worse. By changing the name, Trump is threatening to push Canada out of the agreement, or making it a junior partner to the US and Mexico.

'Our government must not give in to these tactics and hold the line on our public interest,' says Maude Barlow, Honourary Chair of the Council of Canadians. 'When NAFTA was signed 30 years ago we worried that Canada would be at the mercy of the US, and we were right. Now Canada is going to have its auto-workers and farmers pitted against each other.' CoC Trade Campaigner Sujata Day says that it looks like US pressure has already worked on Mexico. 'From media reports, Mexico has caved in to allowing NAFTA 2.0 to lock in the privatization of its energy industry. It has also agreed to Chapter 11 Investor-State dispute settlement...Will Canada be pushed to make similar concessions?"

This is a gun-to-the-head trade treaty surrender. NO to NAFTA !

[email protected]


Freeland Heads to Washington to Rejoin High-Stakes NAFTA Negotiations

"Freeland cut a trip to Europe short to travel to Washington after President Donald Trump announced Monday that the US and Mexico had reached a bilateral trade 'understanding' that could lead to an overhaul- or perhaps the termination of the three-country agreement."

Clearly, Freeland was blindsided by this announcement, which doesn't say much for Canada's much-vaunted system of supposed contacts in and around Washington. This last-chance, last-minute sign or leave, art-of-the-deal strategem by the Yanqui sharks doesn't bode well for the Canucklheads.


US-Mexico Trade Pact Takes Aim at Washington's Rivals and the Working Class

"For Canada's imperialist elite, which for the past three-quarters of a century has banked on being Washington's closest and 'best' ally, the Trump administration's demand that the Canada-US economic and military-security partnership be refashioned to better serve Washington and Wall Street is the source of a historic crisis..."

alan smithee alan smithee's picture

Blaming the Liberals on this one is a Conservative attack.

THis has nothing to do with the party and everything to do with a madman in Washington.

The US has Canada over a barrel. Ottawa is in a bad situation because of a petty vindicvtive petulant manchild that is still pissed at Canada for having the nerve to make retaliatory tariffs on the US. We were supposed to roll over on our backs and let the Americans walk all over us? That's what that Orange dictator wanted and expected us to do. We didn't and now the US is going to give Canada a good shagging up the ass.

The Conservatives are blaming the Liberals  lead by that idiot Pierre Poilievre. Time will tell if Canadians take the Con bait. This is not the government's fault at all -- this time. We're dealing with a real tyrant and that is not hyperbole. The new Hitler which again isn't hyperbole or Godwin's Law.  Even Godwin himself says it isn't.

What Canada should do is find new trade partners and slowly but aggressively stop relying on the US for anything.

But is that realistic? Probably not. I'm not a Finance Minister or someone who knows how trade and diplomatic relationships work. BTW, the US has NOBODY diplomatic Canada can discuss any subject in the new brown shirt party called the GOP.

The US has a gun against Canada's head. We're kind of fucked. Canada and Mexico should have made a trade  agreement the minute Orange Hitler wanted to change NAFTA because the US was 'being robbed'

Now he has Canada in a hopeless situation. That's the reality. The US is out to cripple Canada because of a vindictive bastard in the White House.

They are not our ally. Next time they come to us looking for support of another war they will inevitably start, they should be answered by 2 words. Fuck and You.


On NAFTA, Canada Must Not Give In To Trumpian Theatrics and Bluster

"With his usual theatrics and sleight of hand, US President Donald Trump has decided that NAFTA will be buried forever and replaced with a new deal the US-Mexico Trade Agreement.

On cue, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland rushed to Washington under the media message that Canada has one week to accept conditions or be thrown out of the deal. Like everything Donald Trump says, one has to look behind smoke and mirrors to see what is real. While Canada should take it seriously, it isn't the full story..."


US-Mexico Double-Cross Puts Canada on the Defensive

"Back in early June, a top Canadian trade negotiator told me bluntly that what he didn't want was the US doing a separate deal with Mexico on autos and then turning to Canada. Ottawa would then have lost leverage. What happened was worse..."



G&M Morning Update : 'Canada Ready to Give Way on Dairy for NAFTA Deal'


Who Needs NAFTA? Canada Can Do Without It.

"US President Donald Trump is a master of threats. He has threatened to rip up NAFTA on several occasions. Now he's threatening to expel Canada from NAFTA. The president has essentially given Canada an ultimatum: accept a bad deal with destructive effects on dairy, on our terms, or else. Trump's magic is in making us believe we have no choice. 

But we do. So what would pulling out of NAFTA negotiations mean for Canada? The end of NAFTA would be good riddance..."

Alas, Freeland and Trudeau can't wait to lay our heads down once more upon Uncle Sam's 'free trade' chopping block. And as you can see the Canadian chickens don't put up much of a struggle any more...


"Trump keeps saying the Canadians have 'until Friday' to sign a deal. In reality Canada can drag this out. The real deadline is end of September."


"Looks like a NAFTA deal is coming and none of it will have been negotiated by Canada for our people and the environment. Will be entirely dictated by a mercurial right-wing populist US President for his power base."

'Would you some Bovine Growth Hormone with that?'


"Brent Patterson on the failure of our social movements to understand the importance of fighting neoliberal trade agreements like NAFTA. Agreed!!!"

What social movements?


High-stakes trade negotiations between Canada and the U.S. were dramatically upended on Friday morning by inflammatory secret remarks from President Donald Trump, after the remarks were obtained by the Toronto Star.


From above:

"In remarks Trump wanted to be 'off the record', Trump told Bloomberg News reporters on Thursday, according to a source, that he is not making any compromises at all in the talks with Canada  - but that he cannot say this publicly because 'it's going to be so insulting they're not going to be able to make a deal.'

In another remark he did not want published, Trump said, according to the source, that the possible deal with Canada would be totally on our terms.' He suggested he was scaring the Canadians into submission by repeatedly threatening to impose tariffs. 'Off the record, Canada's working their ass off. And every time we have a problem with a point, I just put up a picture of a Cheverolet Impala,' Trump said, according to the source. The Impala is produced at the GM plant in Oshawa."

NAFTA 2018: Sold Out again. Good thing nobody noticed. I was active during FTA-NAFTA protests. It is clear to me that by comparison to today Canadian civil society is clinically brain dead and unresponsive. 

laine lowe laine lowe's picture

So far, so good in the sense that there is no obvious caving on Canada's part. Had a bad experience in the past on how Canada responds to trade disputes - someone if not many often get sacrificed.



"Canada-US trade talks grind to a halt amid reports Trump said he would not compromise..."


Donald Trump Threatens to Cancel NAFTA Entirely if Congress Interferes With His Plans

"There is no political necessity to keep Canada in the new NAFTA deal. If we don't make a fair deal for the US after decades of abuse, Canada will be out. Congress should not interfere w/these negotiations or I will simply terminate NAFTA entirely & we will be far better off..." - Trump-


Donald Trump's Claims About the Canadian Trade Bargaining Team Have For Once A Ring of Truth!

"They came knocking on our doors last night,' Trump said of the Canadian bargaining team in his now-infamous off-the-record interview with Bloomberg, which was mysteriously leaked to the Toronto Star. 'Let's make a deal. Please.'

So, seriously, how hard is it to believe that the Trudeau Government bargaining team - deeply committed to maintaining neo-liberal trade globalization -- Would be prepared to give away the store for the privilege of remaining in a rebranded NAFTA? Not very.

 But Trump's scenario becomes especially believable when you realize a big part of the store Canada is being asked to give away -- supply management of eggs, poultry and especially dairy products -- is one our leaders mostly oppose on ideological grounds and would dearly love the opportunity to skid.

So nothing would suit them better than to be able to do what they want, and then blame it all on Donald Trump and the Americans..."

Precisely so. And as is obvious, Canadian 'progressives' by their spectacular inattention and inactivity have already telegraphed to all parties, they'll go along too. Watch for key TPP items to be stuffed in as well. What an historic, appalling criminal negligence by Canadian civil society...

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

'Game-changer': Labour groups claim clout in NAFTA talks

This Labour Day, union groups are marking what they see as a milestone in their movement — new clout in the NAFTA talks that have unfolded over the last year.

While much has been said about the declining power of unions, labour groups say they're playing a crucial, unprecedented role in the negotiations.

The Liberal government has brought in union leaders, as well as various industry sector stakeholders, to hear broad perspectives on how best to improve the 25-year-old trade pact.

"I can't think of any trade agreement, ever, where labour has played any sort of an active role," said Jerry Dias, national president of Unifor, Canada's largest private sector union which represents the autoworkers. "NAFTA has been a game-changer for the labour movement and how working class people are treated as it relates to trade."

After talks broke off in Washington Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau worked the phones Saturday. Along with calls to former prime minister Brian Mulroney, Trudeau reached out to two of Canada's most powerful union leaders -- Dias and Hassan Yussuff, president of the Canadian Labour Congress.

Trudeau thanked them for their input and offered a status report on talks.

"They're not going to fold. They're not going to carve a bad deal just to appease the Trump administration," Dias said of the conversation.

Dias said the key sticking points — cultural identity, a dispute mechanism and supply management — are significant and he doesn't expect a quick resolution.


Canada: Begging For NAFTA

"Canadians are being inundated, virtually around the clock, by calls from political and coporate quarters, faithfully reported and embellished by the media, to 'save NAFTA'. To make even more concessions to keep the NAFTA strait jacket would be comic if it wasn't so dangerous and destructive..."


Trump Not The Only Bully in NAFTA 2.0, Corporate Canada is Also At The Table

""While at the beginning of the deal, the Council of Canadians had some hope NAFTA could be improved, the latest developments point to a deal that would once again entrench corporate power. NAFTA 1.0 was a deal by and for corporations. But NAFTA 2.0 doesn't look any better..."

cue crickets..

laine lowe laine lowe's picture

Whether you like him or not, David Orchard made some great points on this past weekend's Cross Country Check-up on CBC. He's not worried about Canada thriving post non-NAFTA and nor am I.


laine lowe wrote:

Whether you like him or not, David Orchard made some great points on this past weekend's Cross Country Check-up on CBC. He's not worried about Canada thriving post non-NAFTA and nor am I.

Agreed! And Orchard starts just after the 23 minute mark:



See Orchard  @ #34

Trump Lies. That Makes Negotiating NAFTA Impossible.

"Normally, trade negotiations are a poker game in which nothing is real until it's signed. Under Trump's leadership, any eventual deal might be no more real than the education all these poor suckers paid for at Trump University. The best course for Canada is to ignore his childish posing, remember all his lies, and vigorously pursue other trading partners."


Everyone is Lying and Other Points To Keep in Mind as NAFTA Negotiations Drag On

"...There is probably no 'win-win' deal in the offing. Trade deals typically offer something to both sides, even if the gains are not evenly distributed. But the greater likelihood is these talks will produce a lose-lose deal...Losing NAFTA would not be the end of the world."


Why NAFTA's Unloved Investor-State Dispute Chapter May Be In Trouble

"...Was the government's decision to buy the pipeline influenced by fear of an expensive Chapter 11 lawsuit if approval wasn't granted? AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde sits on Freeland's NAFTA advisory panel. 'You cannot trade what is not yours', he wrote in an op-ed in the Toronto Star. Translation: don't ratify agreements that conflict with our treaties.' Negotiators could add an exemption to NAFTA to protect Indigenous rights, Schwartz said.  Or they could just kill Chapter 11 altogether..."

PS:  Sleepy Hollow may also be interested to know the Feds have a public consultation process into ISDS. This is a rather important development...


Get rid of chapter 11.


Intrique, Impasse Persist Over NAFTA as Canada-US Talks Drag On

"Last week, in Washington for a full day of meetings with Lighthizer, Freeland insisted the bilateral negotiations had been 'constructive', 'productive' and brimming with 'goodwill'. But multiple sources familiar with the tenor of these talks, speaking on condition of anonymity given the sensitivity of the matter , say the mood has been decidedly less cordial than the minister lets on in public..."


NAFTA End Game: The Predictable and Perilous Tradeoffs Facing Canada

"Canada has been under intense pressure to make irreversible concessions affecting a broad range of issues. As usual in trade talks, the Canadian public will not see the final text until it is too late to change it..."


Canada and the Renegotiation of NAFTA    -    by Joyce Nelson

"What's happening with the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS)? What I found out isn't pretty..."


On Target: Time To Rethink Relationship With US

"With the US-Canada NAFTA trade talks currently at an impasse, maybe it's time that we as Canadians do a little rethinking as to how we appease our major trading partner..."


At UN, Trump Tees Off on NAFTA, Knocks Freeland, Threatens Tariffs

"US President Donald Trump let Canada know how he really feels Wednesday - sharpening his tariff threat, calling out Chrystia Freeland and claiming he denied Justin Trudeau a bilateral meeting, all because of the federal government's hard bargaining on North American trade.

'Frankly, we're thinking about just taxing cars coming in from Canada,' Trump said. 'That's the motherlode, that's the big one. We're very unhappy with the negotiations and the negotiating style of Canada.' And then for good measure: 'We don't like their representative very much..."