New working paper calls for progressive trade agenda beyond NAFTA

November 25, 2019: A new working paper by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Institute for Policy Studies, and Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung calls for a new progressive trade agenda.

Beyond NAFTA 2.0: Toward a Progressive Trade Agenda for People and Planet argues that is is not enough for the progressive movement to react neoliberal trade agreements as they are developed. We must put forward an alternative vision for international economic cooperation and global development that puts people and the environment ahead of corporate profit.

The report uses the newly signed, but not yet ratified, United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement, otherwise known as the NAFTA 2.0, as a case study. They use this agreement to identify the problems with neoliberal trade agreements as well as to outline an alternative and more progressive approach to trade agreements. They argue that a positive trade agreement would:

  • eliminate ISDS and investment protections that undercut the right of duly elected governments to regulate in the interests of their citizens and the environment, and establish binding investor obligations;
  • replace excessive intellectual property rights with balanced protections that encourage innovation while supporting user rights, data privacy, and access to affordable medicines;
  • replace non-binding, unenforceable labor provisions with a floor of strong, fully enforceable labor rights and standards that enable citizens and trade unions to take complaints to independent international secretariats, which should also have the authority to proactively investigate labor rights abuses;
  • fully recognize and respect gender and indigenous rights, including prioritizing women’s employment and economic well-being, and recognizing indigenous title to land and resources and the right to free, prior, and informed consent;
  • ensure international trade agreements respect food sovereignty and the livelihoods of small holdings and family farmers by giving priority to local producers and providing a fair return for small-scale agricultural producers;
  • enshrine binding, enforceable obligations to reduce and mitigate the effects of climate change in all international commercial agreements and remove the ability of foreign investors and governments to challenge good-faith greenhouse gas reduction initiatives;
  • encourage policy flexibility for those industrial and community economic development strategies striving to ensure that trade and foreign investment contribute to good jobs, local economic benefits, healthy communities, and a clean environment;
  • pursue international cooperation that respects regulatory autonomy and aims to harmonize to the highest standards, instead of the current corporate-dominated regulatory cooperation agendas that erode autonomy and harmonize to the lowest common denominator;
  • remove the pressure under current services and investment rules to privatize public services and instead fully protect the right to preserve, expand, restore, and create public services without trade treaty interference; and
  • end the current secrecy in trade negotiations and privileged access for vested interests, and establish procedures that provide full disclosure, transparency, and meaningful public participation.

Read an op-ed about the the working paper at:

The full report is available at: