Tuesday, April 21, 2009

President Obama Will Not Reopen NAFTA Negotiations

The Obama adminstration has announced, through its Trade Representative Ron Kirk, that they have no present plans to reopen negotiations on the 1992 North America Free Trade Agreement. Such negotiations would have involved the possibility of adding labor and environmental protections into the core agreement instead of being side agreements, as they are now. It is historically interesting that the Clinton administration never sent the Kyoto Protocol up to the U.S. Senate for a vote and promoted a trade agreement that many traditional environmentalists and labor see as inadequate on labor and environmental grounds. Ron Kirk is pictured at left with President Barack Obama.

Although imports from Mexico, particularly oil, have exploded under NAFTA, some Midwestern states that have lost thousands of manufacturing jobs. Mexico is the third largest exporter of oil the the USA. The A.F.L.-C.I.O. and traditional environmental groups are disappointed because candidates Obama and Clinton said they would revisit NAFTA labor and environmental policies during the campaign. Traditional environmentalists, in particular, opposed NAFTA, finding the side agreements inadequate. Alternatively, former Dallas mayor Ron Kirk has been a strong advocate of free trade. (WSJ, 4/20/09)

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