Wednesday, April 01, 2009

President Barack Obama On NAFTA

President Obama is in a precarious position regarding the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) because of the current turmoil in global economies. He opposed the treaty during the campaign but is moderating his position some now. During the Democratic presidential primaries, presidential candidate Obama's position was that the U.S. should opt out of the agreement or seek a fundamental re-negotiation in the near future. But in a recent interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation when he visited that country, President Obama made the following statement:

"NAFTA, the basic framework of the agreement has environmental and labor protections as side agreements -- my argument has always been that we might as well incorporate them into the full agreement so that they're fully enforceable. Canada is one of our most important trading partners [with $1.5 billion in trade between the two countries] and it is not in anybody's interest to see that trade diminish."
In a debate during the Ohio primary, candidate Obama stated: "We should use the hammer of a potential opt-out as leverage to ensure that we actually get labor and environmental standards that are enforced." President Obama's current position is not fundamentally different in content (labor and environmental standards should be added to the main body of the agreement), but he is placing far more emphasis on working together to preserve NAFTA. The Center appreciates President Obama's consistent focus on environmental standards. During the primaries, NAFTA was seen as a threat to American jobs, whereas now there a need for cooperation due to a global economic crisis of historic proportions. (WashPostBlog-The Fix)

No comments: