Frihandel i media vecka 35

Veckans media handlar förstås om NAFTA-förhandlingarna.

2018-08-30

Trumps nya NAFTA kan gynna fackföreningsrörelsen skriver Wall Street Journal:

”Labor unions, a traditional adversary of the Republican Party, could be a winner in President Trump’s planned rewrite of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Last summer, the AFL-CIO, the largest union group in the U.S., promoted a long list of changes it wanted to see in a new Nafta. The handshake agreement with Mexico that President Trump announced this week contains some of them.

Among these were boosting the amount of automotive content that had to be sourced from within the Nafta region. The new deal raises that threshold to 75% from 62.5%. That raises the pressure on companies to source more of their car parts in North America, and boost hiring of workers in the region.

The deal further requires that 40% to 45% of that content comes from factories where workers earn at least $16 an hour, a wage that’s higher than in most Mexican factories, and would encourage companies to keep workers in U.S. and Canadian factories.

“These are pretty meaty improvements in areas they care about,” said Jared Bernstein, a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and the former chief economist to Vice President Joe Biden.

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On Wednesday, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said the provisions agreed on by the U.S. and Mexico would be a win for Canadian blue-collar, manufacturing workers who worried their jobs would move to lower-wage jurisdictions.

“Our workers have been concerned for a long time…about the ways in which trade agreements can harm blue-collar workers in high-wage countries,” she said. “There are some important things that we believe we have accomplished together with the U.S.—and thanks to some significant compromises Mexico was prepared to make to support Canadian workers.”

The office of U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said the deal “brings labor obligations into the core of the agreement, makes them fully enforceable, and represents the strongest provisions of any trade agreement.”

Mr. Lighthizer’s office said the new deal also requires Mexico to take specific legislative action to make it easier for Mexican laborers to bargain collectively. That could make it less attractive for companies to outsource to Mexico.

Moreover, it requires the parties to follow labor standards laid out by the International Labor Organization. That requirement is an example of the type of problems that could be lurking in the specifics of the deal. Not all states in the U.S. follow these standards.

“It’s not clear if [only] Mexico has to adopt those conventions or if the U.S. and Mexico both have to do so,” said Luis de la Calle, one of Mexico’s negotiators on the original Nafta, which has been in effect since 1994. “If so, all the right-to-work states, which have never adhered to these conventions, will push back forcefully.”

Many observers are also awaiting specifics on which industries will be affected, and how the deal will commit countries to upholding their obligations.”

The Guardian skriver om Kanada och USA som nu förhandlar intensivt för att få ett avtal färdigt:

”Talks between Canada and the United States over renegotiating the Nafta trade agreement are going to the wire as Washington pushes for a deal by Friday.

“We have had very intensive work being done by officials who were meeting late into the night last night on a number of different issues,” Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s foreign affairs minister, said on Thursday.

Canada’s top trade negotiator said she was “encouraged” by the urgent discussions aimed revamping the North American Free Trade Agreement, a tripartite deal between the US, Canada and Mexico.

“There’s a lot of goodwill. It’s a lot that we’re trying to do in a short period of time, we’re working very, very intensely,” she said. “We continue to be encouraged by the constructive atmosphere that I think both countries are bringing to the table.”

The intense talks – described by analysts as a terse moment in a US-Canada relationship that has tumbled to its lowest point in recent memory – come some 18 months after Donald Trump hailed his northern neighbour and vowed that any Canada-related changes to Nafta would be minor.

The US president has seemingly altered his viewpoint in the months since, laid bare after the US and Mexico announced a bilateral deal on Monday. The news left Canada on the outside, forced to negotiate its way into the deal or face a breakdown in trade relations with their closest ally and biggest trading partner.

Freeland cut short a trip to Europe to rush to Washington DC, hoping to salvage Canada’s place in a trade pact that underpins the three-quarters of exports Canada sends south of the border and the 2.5m Canadian jobs that depend on US trade.

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Among the sticky points is the chapter 19 dispute-resolution mechanism, long described as a red line by Canadian officials as it hinders the US from pursuing dumping and anti-subsidy cases. US officials have said Mexico agreed to eliminate the mechanism.

“I think the Canadian view on Chapter 19 is well known,” Freeland told reporters on Wednesday. “This is a very intense moment in the negotiations. We’re trying to get a lot of things done really quickly. I think it will be most effective if we keep our negotiations on specific issues to the negotiating table.”

Other areas of dispute include a “sunset” provision that gives the deal a 16-year lifespan as well as Canada’s dairy sector, which has long provoked Trump’s fury over its price controls and protection from imports. Ottawa appears to be ready to make concessions in this sector, a position that could cost the government votes in next year’s federal election.

Canada’s dairy farmers – many of whom are concentrated in the vote-rich provinces of Ontario and Quebec – have long held tremendous sway over Canadian politics. The premier of Quebec, Philippe Couillard, warned this week that any weakening of Canada’s supply management policies would carry “serious political consequences”.

Still, both Trump and Canada’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau, have expressed optimism that a deal could be reached by the end of the week. “I think Canada very much wants to make a deal,” Trump said on Wednesday.

Trudeau echoed the sentiment, but added a caveat. “We recognise that there is a possibility of getting there by Friday, but it is only a possibility, because it will hinge on whether or not there is ultimately a good deal for Canada,” he told reporters in Ottawa. “No Nafta deal is better than a bad Nafta deal.””

Washington Posts analys är att det pressade tidsschemat är en del av Trumps förhandlingstaktik:

President Trump is telling Canadian officials they have until Friday to sign on to his major new North American trade deal, threatening to leave them behind, rip up the continent’s existing trade pact and even, possibly, hit Canada with draconian auto tariffs.

But according to Congress, foreign officials and even members of Trump’s own administration, Friday isn’t the drop-dead deadline for Canada that the president is suggesting.

On Friday, Trump plans to send a letter to Congress notifying it of an impending trade deal, which he’s terming a replacement for the North American Free Trade Agreement (new name to be determined). He wants to send a letter because it starts the clock on the 90-day notice that U.S. trade law requires Trump to give Congress before he can sign any agreement.

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If Trump can get the deal signed, then the action moves to Congress. Although legislation typically requires Congress to pass a bill and then the president to sign it, trade agreements typically go in the opposite direction, where Congress votes on the deal after the president inks it alongside leaders of other countries.

Congress needs only a simple majority to approve it, but there is a lengthy review process that has to take place before the vote can happen, meaning lawmakers probably won’t vote on “NAFTA 2.0” until the summer of 2019 or beyond. It’s yet another reason the midterm elections could be critical for Trump, because Democrats could easily stall this process.

“The likelihood is that this will be dealt with by the new Congress, the next Congress after the midterm elections,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Tuesday on Bloomberg.”


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