Word is that globalization is here to stay. The integration of regional economies continues to manifest as binding international agreements act as indispensable proponents of “free trade.” Trade among nations is an indisputable good and understandably, agreements must be made between nations so as to clarify the foundation of expectations. President Trump has been touting as one of his recent achievements the completion of the United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA) and while there are many aspects of the 1,572 page agreement which make sense for trade concerns in the 21st century, there are aspects of the agreement to consider before offering an opinion to your representative. Bear in mind, your congressional representative will have no flexibility to request changes to the agreement as the USMCA enjoys Fast Track Authority, a recently favored custom of allowing the President to negotiate terms of large, international agreements leaving the role of Congress, in the confirmation process, to a simple up or down vote.
It should be understood that while this agreement is limited to countries in North America: US, Mexico and Canada, the agreement heavily mirrors language presented in the recently rejected TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership). There are slight improvements in opportunities for dairy farmers and the automobile sector but, for the most part, the USMCA adopts most of the TPP. How is this possible? What makes this possible exemplifies why the trajectory of this nation never changes no matter who occupies the White House. Between the fact that US Trade Representative, Robert Lighthizer, sits on the Council of Foreign Relations and the staff penning the agreement are the same career staff working for previous administrations allows for the same material (that was once rejected) to be rebranded until it lands in a politically friendly climate and can pass through Congress. The Council on Foreign Relations is an organization from which most cabinet members are traditionally plucked no matter who occupies the White House. It is reported by the Huffington Post that half of the staff standing behind President Trump in the Rose Garden ceremony as he announced his new deal were the same team who negotiated and documented the provisions of the TPP under President Obama.
Otherwise, what one would want and expect from a “good” 21st century trade agreement is language to protect property rights as “property” expands into new horizons of the technological universe and modern forms of enterprise such as intellectual property protection, digital trade, free and fair trade treatment of all sectors in the marketplace, conservative, economic policy encouraging an appropriate relationship between government and the free market. Agreements focusing on truly “free trade” would not include articles not germane to economic exchange. Once an agreement does adopt positions on extraneous matters, it takes on a character and a mission different from a simple “trade agreement.” Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, the new and improved USMCA does not meet the criteria of a “good” free trade agreement. The problem lies in the fact that this agreement along with its predecessors are not purely economic but rather incorporate liberalized tenets of the UN’s Agenda 2030 including not only the necessary economic component but also environmental and social requirements. Chapter 4, under the rules of origin, includes a requirement for a $16 minimum wage on 40% of the production process. In Chapter 23 there are some reasonable, basic labor protections including freedom from forced labor and freedom of association but also included is the highly controversial demand to accommodate sexual orientation preferences and gender identity concerns. Chapter 24 dives into air quality and water concerns glossing over corporate social responsibilities to encourage policy of environmental law. Otherwise, two new Committees are established in the deal: the North American Competitiveness Committee who is tasked with “promoting further economic integration with these nations” and the new Environmental Committee whose objective is to promote sustainable development (the UN’s Agenda 21). At best, more committees mean more expense for taxpayers, at worst, we continue to expand global government and encourage strangling bureaucracy and regulation.
This behemoth was born while we were sleeping. We are told it’s here to stay. Is it?
See Full USMCA text here
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