President Trump’s Sound and Fury over NAFTA Signify Nothing in Meaningless Letter to Congress

May 18, 2017 Issues: Trade

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI) today issued the following statement in response to the Trump Administration’s letter of notification to Congress to initiate negotiations with Canada and Mexico on the “modernization” of NAFTA: 

“Instead of strengthening the NAFTA re-negotiation letter, the Administration has rendered it meaningless. The Administration should remember that the Constitution gives the authority over trade to the Congress, and Members must vote to approve the agreement, so starting with language consult closely and follow the objectives in TPA doesn’t begin to make Congress and the public a full partner in the Administration’s first foray into trade negotiations.

“Unfortunately, in meetings to date, the Administration has evaded questions about a core problem with NAFTA: a wholly deficient labor regime in Mexico that has kept wages low and workers without the rights to change the system. Instead of being clear that Mexico will be required to change their laws and bring their practices into compliance with internationally recognized labor standards, they have stated that these are ‘sensitive’ issues.

“There will be no change in NAFTA, and there will be no stemming the loss of the U.S. jobs, unless this issue of labor costs is fully addressed. It must be front and center in any re-negotiation.

“It is vital that the Ways and Means Committee take their oversight responsibility serious and hold a series of hearings during this 90 day period before the negotiations begin so that Members have complete clarity on the negotiations and are actively involved in them.”