A new vision for agriculture
momagri, movement for a world agricultural organization, is a think tank chaired by Christian Pèes.
It brings together, managers from the agricultural world and important people from external perspectives,
such as health, development, strategy and defense. Its objective is to promote regulation
of agricultural markets by creating new evaluation tools, such as economic models and indicators,
and by drawing up proposals for an agricultural and international food policy.
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NAFTA reform: and if Obama tackled it before Trump?



Momagri Editorial Board



While Donald Trump campaigned on the promise to end the transatlantic (TTIP) and trans-pacific (TPP) trade negotiations, he has also focused his criticism of free trade agreements on NAFTA, the agreement between Canada, the United States and Mexico.

In a column
1, the American researcher T. A. Wise reminds us that Barack Obama, at the time candidate for the top job, also promised to eliminate NAFTA’s “many flaws”. But he did not keep his promise. The researcher is working chiefly from a November 2009 report2 by the Task Force on North American Trade Policy on which he participated, and which brought together experts from the agreement’s three member countries (Canada, USA, Mexico) in order to bring about concrete solutions.

For the American researcher, Obama's inaction could have led to another form of protest to globalization and its effects than that which ultimately led to the election of Donald Trump. In this way, T. A. Wise identifies two types of dispute with regards free trade agreements: on the one hand, that which apprehends their effects on the equality and power relations between categories of economic actors (in particular the excessive power given to companies to challenge democratic choices), and on the other hand, that which aims at turning countries and peoples against each other.

Yet it seems unlikely, he continues, that Donald Trump will revoke Chapter 11, which constitutes the investment section of the agreement, and which authorizes companies to sue States if their profits are threatened. At the moment, Donald Trump is not proposing any tangible alternative to NAFTA. He does not advocate any cooperation with regards the industrial policies of the NAFTA countries in order to stem the losses caused by the agreement, but on the contrary pits an ultra-protectionist position based on punitive tariffs, the relocation of American industries (America first), a wall with Mexico and multiple and varied accusations against China (accusation of the manipulation of exchange rates, the threat of customs duties and the return to the one-China principle).

If only the former occupant of the White House, Barack Obama, had seized the moment when he enjoyed a majority in Congress and a certain advantage in renegotiating the terms of the agreement, regrets T. A. Wise “we wouldn’t be where we are today...”

Finally, the researcher speaks of “harmonization upward”, in contrast to the inequality that emerged from NAFTA, the only potential guarantee for success of any reform of free trade agreements. This recommendation is particularly relevant with regards agricultural policies and their lack of convergence between Canada, the United States and Mexico, especially when one considers the damage caused by NAFTA, in particular to Mexican agriculture (Dependence on US imports, impoverishment of farmers, etc.).


1 The entire article is available from
http://billmoyers.com/story/getting-the-nafta-we-need/
2 «The Future of North American Trade Policy: Lessons from NAFTA»
http://www.bu.edu/pardee/files/2009/11/Pardee-Report-NAFTA.pdf



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Paris, 24 February 2017