Why Did Environmentalists Oppose The North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta)

Some groups opposed to free trade are calling on the Clinton administration to adopt a social charter on the European model through parallel negotiations on labour and environmental issues. A NAFTA, which strongly regulates labour and environmental issues, would be an albatross to U.S. competitiveness and would significantly reduce the level of potential exports of U.S. small and medium-sized enterprises to Mexico. A regulated trade agreement modelled on the European Social Charter would also set a bad precedent for future regional and multilateral agreements such as the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), resulting in a general reduction in world trade. Those who oppose the expansion of such operations in Mexico and who say they “export jobs” ignore a simple fact: U.S. operations will move elsewhere when Mexico is closed for them, especially to East Asia, with far less positive results for the U.S. economy. The Clinton amendments were sufficient to secure support for the adoption of NAFTA by traditional environmental groups such as the World Wildlife Fund and the Audubon Society. However, other environmental groups, such as the Sierra Club and the Public Citizen, have rejected NAFTA, arguing that it would weaken environmental, health and safety protection laws and regulations and lead to environmental degradation. Q: Should the agreement be renegotiated, since a new president must implement the agreement? In fact, the rapid monitoring process required the government to work closely with congressional, labour, economic and environmental groups during the negotiations.

Months before formal negotiations between the United States and Mexico began in July 1991, Congress held a series of NAFTA hearings, during which all issues were presented by groups that rejected and supported the agreement. Opponents of Congress, such as Congressman Richard Gephardt, the Missouri Democrat, made their preferences known to the government of the day. However, as a result of the 10 May agreement, recent agreements with Colombia, South Korea, Panama and Peru are subject to the same dispute resolution procedure as trade disputes, which could involve commercial compensation. These latest agreements also broaden the scope of offences to include an obligation to enforce environmental legislation and other measures, as well as legislation. As the United States, Canada and Mexico prepare to negotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) next month, several environmental and labour groups have sharply criticized the agreement and called for a review of NAFTA priorities. However, the issue of trade coherence and environmental protection has grown considerably over the past two decades. Trade negotiators are now more sensitive to environmental concerns and trade agreements are more focused on environmental, health and safety issues. Today, the legitimacy of including environmental provisions in trade agreements is much more accepted. At the same time, a number of environmental groups have again pledged to support trade agreements in which they believe the provisions take due account of environmental concerns.

And while developing countries as a whole continue to oppose the inclusion of environmental provisions in the Doha Round negotiations, many large-scale environmental provisions have been accepted in bilateral trade agreements. [2] Currently, several MEASs would require contracting parties to reduce subsidies that contribute to overcapacity.

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