NAFTA: It’s time to end the charade and walk away from NAFTA

NAFTA: It’s time to end the charade and walk away from NAFTA

Postby Oscar » Thu Sep 27, 2018 3:08 pm

It’s time to end the charade and walk away from NAFTA

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By THOMAS WALKOM National Affairs Columnist Thu., Sept. 27, 2018·

Finally, Canada is asking the right question in the North American Free Trade Agreement talks.

That question is: What’s the point?

U.S. President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hold a meeting at the G7 Summit in La Malbaie, Quebec in June. Trump’s instance on overriding any trade deal for reasons of “national security” make NAFTA worthless, writes Thomas Walkom.

More specifically, what’s the point of entering into a trade agreement with a nation that insists on the right to overrule that pact on a whim?

That’s a question that many have asked privately. On Wednesday, Canadian ambassador to the U.S. David MacNaughton asked it publicly.

“If you can’t resolve disputes in a fair and balanced way, then what’s the use of the agreement?” he said. “If you can’t have some curb on the arbitrary use of tariffs under the guise of national security … then I don’t think it’s much of an agreement.”

Here, the ambassador was referring to two major points of contention in the talks between Canada and the U.S. The first is whether there should be some kind of independent system for resolving disputes. Canada wants to stick with the existing so-called Chapter 19 provisions. The U.S. wants to scrap them.

The second is U.S. President Donald Trump’s insistence on being able to override any trade deal — including NAFTA — for reasons of “national security.”

He has used this national security exemption to slap punitive tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum exports to the U.S. He is threatening to do the same with Canadian-built autos.

The president isn’t required to prove that U.S. national security is endangered before invoking this law. And so far he hasn’t.

Rather he has boasted that he is using this loophole in U.S. trade law as an excuse to force other nations, including Canada, into making concessions.

As MacNaughton says, what’s the point of making a deal with someone who plays that kind of game?

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