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article imageOp-Ed: USMCA replacement for NAFTA still a deal for global corporations

By Ken Hanly     Oct 2, 2018 in Politics
The new NAFTA deal is called the USMCA, the United States Mexico Canada free trade agreement. The deal contains several changes to the original NAFTA, of varying importance for the countries involved.
Plus factors in the new agreement
There are two major advantages to the new agreement according to Maude Barlow, chair of the Council of Canadians: the Chapter 11 state dispute mechanism, which allows corporations to sue states, and the energy proportionality provision which guarantees a certain amount of energy exports to the US are both absent from the new agreement.
Marlow said: "This is a major victory for the many groups and individuals who sounded the alarm on how these dangerous provisions affect our ability to protect the public interest and the environment. Our movement should be very proud. But as always, we should be vigilant about the rest of the agreement, which was hatched in order to erase rules, and help out big business."
Canadian objectives in negotiations were discussed in a pervious Digital Journal article. It was not listed as an objective to remove the proportionality provisions. It may be that since Mexico was exempted from the provisions and they are not in the new agreement with Mexico that they should not be in the Canada agreement.
The U.S. is now much more energy self-sufficient and also the demand for fossil fuels may soon decrease so perhaps it was not thought necessary even though it could be of great benefit to the U.S.
Dairy Provisions break promises made by the Liberals
One of the priorities that was in the original list of Canadian objectives was to protect the supply management system used to produce dairy and some other products in Canada. The changes will have a considerable effect in the province of Quebec and may hurt Liberals both in provincial and federal elections.
But even Mike Southwood, general manager of Alberta Milk in the west, complained of the new provisions. He noted that dairy producers had already given up ground in the Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTTP) and the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). Having already sold out the farmers twice it was not surprising that the U.S. demanded the Canadian government do so again.
Southwood pointed out that with more access to Canadian markets for U.S. companies, processing jobs will be lost and quota on dairy farms across Canada will be reduced. Barlow claimed that under the deal Canadians would not be getting local, fresh, hormone-free milk.
Other negative features of the deal
A recent Rabble article notes: "In Article 32.10 Canada agreed not to negotiate commercial agreements with non-market countries. That would be China. Should Canada decide to sign a trade agreement with China, the non-market country, it would be booted out of USMCA. For trade expert Peter Clark this amounts to Canada being treated as a vassal state by the U.S."
Chapter 33 is entitled "Macroeconomic Policies and Exchange Rate Matters". Canada will now sit down with the US whenever they think that our dollar is too low and we will be accused of currency manipulation. There goes the independence of our Central Bank. According to Rabble, Canada's macroeconomic policy, government spending and taxation would need to be coordinated with the U.S.
Federal Crown corporations which have often been a key to Canadian economic development in some areas under Chapter 22 of the new deal become State-Owned Enterprises. Their activities are to be restricted to non-competition with private sector companies. Forget any new policies such as public auto insurance except in areas where private companies can find no profit so do not compete. Forget launching a public company to build public transit vehicles. There are even penalties spelled out for non-compliance. The neo-conservative free enterprise ideology is being enforced as a gain to global corporate domination of the economy.
The new deal also gives a two year extension on biologic drugs and this will prevent lower cost generic drugs from entering the market. This will make it difficult for Liberals to keep their promise of a national pharmacare program.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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