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

The removal of trade barriers in the world since the end of the Second World War has led to a considerable increase in trade and economic activity between the participating countries. When building this international trading system at the Bretton Woods Conference in 1948, Democrats and Republicans understood that free trade would benefit most American workers. Adequate funding is, of course, crucial for good capacity building. An important question, however, is whether the funding is new money that would not have been available otherwise, or rescheduled funding. With regard to the latter, have the funds for trade-related capacity-building been more or less effective than if the money had been used for other projects to promote environmental protection? Some garment industries could move south, but the textile industry is expected to increase its NAFTA exports by 13%. Service unions, such as the Teamsters, will benefit from the agreement as cross-border truck and warehouse traffic increases. Even in regions where jobs will be lost, the loss is small, such as . B loss of 6 to 15% in the manufacture of flat glass and major household appliances, and less than 5% in the US automotive industry in the long term. Almost fifty states have significantly increased their exports to Mexico over the past five years as Mexican trade barriers have decreased. In Arkansas, exports to Mexico increased by 154% between 1987 and 1991. In Michigan, 31,000 jobs depend on exports to Mexico; From 1987 to 1991, exports to Mexico increased by 51% (U.S. Exports to Mexico: A State-by-State Overview 1987-1991 (U.S. Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration, July 1992), p.

32.) Surprisingly, many members of Congress who oppose NAFTA, such as Ohio Congressman Donald Pease and Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell of Maine, come from states that have seen net job gains due to growth in U.S. exports to Mexico. For example, Ohio Senator Howard Metzenbaum is against NAFTA; but between 1987 and 1991, his state`s exports to Mexico increased by 137 percent to $582 million. During the same period, New York`s exports to Mexico increased by 73 percent, creating new jobs for thousands of workers. Mexico is the third largest export market for Illinois, Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania and the second largest market for Maine, New Hampshire and Ohio. Mexico is the largest export market for California and Texas. Pennsylvania Senator Harris Wofford`s campaign platform included an anti-NAFTA stance; Nevertheless, Pennsylvania`s exports to Mexico have increased by 283% since 1987 to $694 million in 1991, creating about 9,000 additional jobs for Pennsylvania workers.y (For a more complete analysis of exports to Mexico, see ibid.) A small positive first step was taken at the beginning of the tour. As noted in Chapter 2, in order to gain the support of developing countries for the launch of the Doha Round, developed countries had to agree on a procedure to approve waivers from the requirements of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) to enable small developing countries to respond to a national emergency such as the AIDS crisis.

to be able to import low-cost generics. Rwanda, facing a severe AIDS crisis and whose impoverished population could not afford patented retroviral drugs that cost several hundred thousand dollars a year, was the first to apply for an exemption. Mexico, like many socialist countries in Eastern Europe, has learned that centrally planned economies and authoritarian governments have created a much more degraded environment than their democratic and free-market counterparts. For most of the period since the 1930s, Mexico has been governed by an authoritarian and quasi-socialist government. The economy was subject to centralized planning and control, and the Mexican government protected domestic industry with high import duties, quotas, and licenses. The government has also created an extremely cumbersome system of rules and regulations to protect workers from exploitation, control production, and direct resources to government priorities. NAFTA was negotiated by the Bush administration under the “accelerated” authority granted by Congress. By giving the president authority for the express train, Congress agrees in advance to approve or reject the negotiated agreement as a whole without amendments. The expeditious negotiation procedures approved in the Trade Act of 1974 gave several presidents the power to enter into trade agreements that would not later be dissolved by Congress. Today, some environmental groups support the renegotiated Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), including the World Wildlife Fund, while others, such as the Sierra Club, strongly oppose it. (The environmental provisions of the TPP and the pros and cons of the agreement`s impact on the environment are discussed in Chapter 10.) With the opening of NAFTA negotiations in June 1991, environmental considerations were further emphasized. Environmentalists were extremely concerned about the negative environmental impact this agreement could have on the United States, because Mexican environmental protection was far behind that of the United States and because the United States and Mexico share a 2,000-mile border.

Among other negative effects, environmentalists believed that this trade deal could lead to lower U.S. standards to remain competitive with imports from Mexico and worsen Mexico`s already threatened environment. A free trade agreement between Canada and the United States was concluded in 1988, and NAFTA essentially extended the provisions of that agreement to Mexico. NAFTA was established by the governments of U.S. President George H.W. Bush, Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and the Mexican President. Carlos Salinas de Gortari negotiated. A provisional agreement on the Pact was reached in August 1992 and signed by the three Heads of State or Government on 17 December. NAFTA was ratified by the national legislators of the three countries in 1993 and entered into force on January 1, 1994. The WTO has considerably broadened environmental considerations in relation to GATT. The preamble recognizes, inter alia, the objective of sustainable development, the Charter establishes a new Committee on Trade and Environment to promote a positive interaction between trade and the environment, and a new agreement has been reached recognizing the right of Members to take sanitary and phytosanitary measures; which are necessary for the protection of man. Animal or plant life or health, provided that such measures do not constitute disguised restrictions on trade and do not constitute discrimination between Members.

In addition, a new services agreement, the General Agreement on Services, also explicitly recognized the right of members to maintain services to protect the environment. Agreements to limit subsidies that encourage overfishing and to remove barriers to trade in environmental goods and services should be a high priority in future negotiations. Additional ancillary arrangements have been made to address concerns about the potential impact of the Treaty on the labour market and the environment. Critics feared that low wages in Mexico would attract U.S. and Canadian companies, leading to a relocation of production to Mexico and a rapid decline in manufacturing jobs in the U.S. and Canada. Environmentalists, meanwhile, have worried about the potentially catastrophic effects of Mexico`s rapid industrialization, as the country has no experience in implementing and enforcing environmental regulations. Potential environmental issues were addressed in the North American Convention on Environmental Cooperation (NAAEC), which established the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) in 1994.

Despite the fact that all objective studies on the impact of NAFTA make it clear that it will benefit all three countries, there is considerable political opposition to the agreement in the United States. While many of the concerns expressed are real, much of the opposition is based on the desire to protect the special interests of politically powerful voters opposed to free trade. However, recent studies have found “statistically significant port pollution effects of a reasonable magnitude,” according to a thorough literature review by Smita Brunnermeier. [8] These studies show that some companies that have high environmental compliance costs and intense price competition may be affected by environmental compliance costs. .