What’s the story with the New NAFTA?

Unions, Consumer Groups and Congressional Democrats Forced Trump to Reopen and Fix His Corporate-rigged 2018 NAFTA 2.0 Deal

Big Pharma Giveaways That Trump Added Are Eliminated; Stronger Labor and Environmental Standards and Enforcement Are Added to Counter Outsourcing

Donald Trump betrayed his promises to fix the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The NAFTA 2.0 deal Trump signed in 2018 added new monopoly protections for Big Pharma to lock in high medicine prices, and its labor and environmental terms would not have counteracted NAFTA’s ongoing outsourcing of jobs and pollution and downward pressure on wages. For a year, as the NAFTA trade deficit exploded, Trump blocked progress on fixing NAFTA, refusing to make changes so a new deal might reduce NAFTA’s ongoing damage to people and the environment throughout North America.

Congressional Democrats used their majority in the House of Representatives to insist on changes: Speaker Pelosi announced there would be no vote unless labor and environmental terms were strengthened and the Big Pharma goodies were eliminated. A Working Group including fair trade champion Rep. Rosa DeLauro negotiated with the administration. Campaigners nationwide intensified two years of NAFTA Replacement efforts – meetings with their representatives, rallies, protests and more.

In late 2019, Trump finally agreed to improve the deal. That new NAFTA is better than the original and might reduce some of its ongoing damage. But it won’t bring back hundreds of thousands of jobs, as Trump nonsensically claims. Nothing makes that clearer than U.S. auto manufacturers’ recent announcements that they plan to expand production in Mexico.

Although the new deal still includes problematic terms, the alternative is status quo NAFTA, not a more improved deal. The unusually large, bipartisan December 19, 2019 House vote (386 yes – 41 no) shows that to be politically viable, U.S. trade pacts no longer can include extreme corporate investor privileges or broad Big Pharma monopoly protections and must have enforceable labor and environmental terms.  

The new NAFTA is not a template for future agreements. Rather, it sets the floor from which we will continue to fight for good trade policies that put working people and the planet first.

A Timeline of Advocates' and Activists’ Efforts to Replace NAFTA

January 13, 2017

CTC Sends a Letter to President-elect Trump Outlining NAFTA Renegotiation Demands

The Citizens Trade Campaign, a coalition of labor, environmental, family farm, consumer and faith organizations, calls for transparency and outlines 10 key demands for achieving a NAFTA replacement that would finally put people’s interests ahead of corporations in a U.S. trade pact.

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January 13, 2017

January 30, 2017

GTW New York Times Op-Ed on Necessary Changes to NAFTA

Lori Wallach, director of the Global Trade Watch division of Public Citizen, spotlights NAFTA’s protectionist corporate goodies that must go, including NAFTA Chapter 11. It promotes offshoring with special perks for firms that relocate. And established the outrageous Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) regime, which empowers corporations to sue governments before panels of three corporate lawyers to win unlimited sums of money from taxpayers over claims environmental and other policies violate their NAFTA privileges. Hundreds of millions have been paid to corporations after NAFTA ISDS attacks.

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January 30, 2017

March 29, 2017

Trump’s Draft NAFTA Renegotiation Plan Leaks

A draft of the formal notice to Congress of intent to launch trade negotiations required under Fast Track leaks on March 29, 2017. That outline would preserve NAFTA’s infamous Investor-State Dispute Settlement and replicate the controversial corporate-favored labor, environmental, and pharmaceutical provisions that doomed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

View our annotated document.

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March 29, 2017

May 11, 2017

Senate Confirms U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer

A battle begins within the administration, where a rogue’s gallery of corporate bigwigs who love NAFTA as-is and pushed for enactment of the TPP are appointed to fill most Cabinet positions. They seek to revive the TPP through NAFTA renegotiations. USTR Lighthizer begins to work with unions, consumer groups and congressional Democrats to seek a different approach.

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May 11, 2017

May 18, 2017

Formal Notice to Congress on Start of Renegotiations

With the formal process to renegotiate NAFTA finally underway, labor, environmental, family farm, consumer and faith leaders reiterate their demands for a new agreement that puts human needs in the United States, Mexico and Canada ahead of corporate profits.

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May 18, 2017

May 19, 2017

Faith Leaders Call for a NAFTA Renegotiation That Puts People and the Planet First

After review of Trump’s initial NAFTA proposal, the Interfaith Working Group on Trade and Investment fears that a modernization of NAFTA that would include some of the worst provisions of TPP will further exacerbate inequities at the expense of vulnerable populations and creation.

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May 19, 2017

June 12, 2017

A Record 50,000 Public Comments Submitted Demanding a New Deal to Benefit Working People, Not Just Corporations

A government request for public comments on NAFTA renegotiation results in an unprecedented response, spotlighting the political stakes. More than 50,000 public comments are submitted demanding a NAFTA replacement that benefits working people and protects the environment – not just large corporations. The unprecedented influx of comments temporarily crashes the government website.

Comments: Public Citizen | AFL-CIO | Sierra Club

June 12, 2017

June 27, 2017

ReplaceNAFTA Petition Deliver 6-27-17

NAFTA Renegotiation Protest Outside First NAFTA Hearings

As the International Trade Commission opens its NAFTA renegotiation hearings, activists from unions, online advocacy groups, and consumer, faith and environmental organizations rally in front of the building. More than 100,000 petitions are delivered, adding to the 50,000 official public comments submitted from people nationwide.

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June 27, 2017

ReplaceNAFTA Petition Deliver 6-27-17

July 12, 2017

Small Businesses Demand Elimination of Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS)

More than 100 small business leaders send a letter to the administration calling for the revised NAFTA to eliminate the ISDS regime at the heart of NAFTA. ISDS empowers multinational corporations to demand unlimited payment from taxpayers on claims that domestic environmental and health laws violate their special NAFTA privileges. Cases are decided by tribunals of three corporate lawyers, whose ruling cannot be appealed.

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July 12, 2017

August 14, 2017

On Eve of First Renegotiation Session, Rep. Rosa DeLauro and Other Members of Congress Join AFL-CIO and Public Citizen at Press Conference to Call for a Renegotiation Democrats Could Support

The press conference speakers discuss the changes required to stop NAFTA’s ongoing damage and the reality that a deal based on the TPP model — as demanded by corporate interests and GOP congressional leaders — would not be able to garner a congressional majority.

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August 14, 2017

October 11, 2017

Trinational Coalition Delivers 400,000 Petitions Urging Congress to #EndISDS in NAFTA

Unions, consumer groups, and faith leaders join congressional Democrats in a press rally. The activists deliver 400,000 petitions to Congress demanding that NAFTA’s expansive corporate rights and protections and ISDS be eliminated during renegotiations.

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October 11, 2017

October 25, 2017

Hundreds of Economics and Law Professors Demand ISDS Be Eliminated From NAFTA

More than 200 U.S. economics and law professors sign a letter urging the elimination of ISDS in the revised NAFTA. Signers include Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, former California Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso, Columbia University professor and UN Senior Adviser Jeffrey Sachs, and prominent New York professor and advocate Zephyr Teachout.

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October 25, 2017

November 15, 2017

U.S., Mexican Bishops Offer Moral Guidelines for NAFTA: Strengthen Labor, Wage and Environmental Standards

U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Conference of the Mexican Episcopate call for revised NAFTA to prioritize the poor, the environment, and access to affordable medicines.

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November 15, 2017

November 16, 2017

Talks Heat Up at the Fifth Round of NAFTA Renegotiations

At issue during this round is whether Canada and Mexico would engage on a series of proposals to significantly reshape NAFTA – namely eliminate ISDS, roll back waivers of Buy American and other domestic procurement preferences that outsource U.S. tax dollars, and tighten the rules of origin so that goods with significant Chinese and other non-NAFTA content would no longer enjoy NAFTA benefits.

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November 16, 2017

December 13, 2017

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders Headlines #ReplaceNAFTA Day-of-Action Rally Event

More than 70 civil society organizations unite for a Day of Action, emailing their 10 million members to call, Tweet and email Congress during the final 2017 round of NAFTA renegotiation talks. The “#ReplaceNAFTA” hashtag was viewed by 3.6 million people.

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December 13, 2017

January 23, 2018

183 Members of Congress Call for Strong Labor Standards in New NAFTA to End Job Outsourcing

Representatives Rosa DeLauro, Sander Levin, and Bill Pascrell, Jr. led a letter that garnered signatures from 183 members of the House of Representatives demanding that “any new NAFTA must have strong, clear and binding provisions that address Mexico’s labor conditions.” Union activists nationwide unite to fight for a NAFTA replacement that can raise wages and stop job outsourcing.

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January 23, 2018

March 21, 2018

1,000+ U.S. Unions and Other Civil Society Groups Outline Shared NAFTA Renegotiation Demands

A strong and diverse cross-sector coalition of more than a thousand labor, environmental, family farm, consumer, civil rights, faith, small business, public health and community groups sends a unified message that the NAFTA renegotiation must prioritize working families, public health and the environment over corporate profits.

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March 21, 2018

May 17, 2018

U.S. Consumer Groups Call for Elimination of ISDS in NAFTA

Consumers Union (the advocacy division of Consumer Reports), Consumer Federation of America, and U.S. PIRG sign a letter supporting the elimination of ISDS.

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May 17, 2018

September 12, 2018

More Than 300 Republican and Democratic State Legislators From All 50 States Urge End of ISDS in NAFTA

State legislators highlight the dangers that ISDS poses for state sovereignty and local lawmaking. ISDS has enabled transnational corporations to challenge state laws, local land use ordinances and even court decisions in an arbitration system, where corporations seek unlimited sums of taxpayer money, including for the loss of expected future profits.

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September 12, 2018

September 30, 2018

Text of NAFTA 2.0 Is Released, Revealing Some Good, Some Bad, Much Unfinished Business

The 2018 text includes some improvements that progressives have long demanded, like the gutting of ISDS. But it also includes unacceptable new terms for Big Pharma that would lock in place the policies that keep U.S. medicine prices high. And critically, the deal’s labor and environmental standards are too weak and unenforceable to counter outsourcing of jobs and pollution and downward pressure on wages.

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September 30, 2018

November 30, 2018

Trump Administration Signs NAFTA 2.0

The Trump administration signs its NAFTA 2.0 deal and renames it the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). Public Citizen, unions and congressional Democrats note that NAFTA 2.0 does not fix NAFTA to counter ongoing job outsourcing, downward pressure on wages and attacks on environmental safeguards, but adds unacceptable goodies for Big Pharma. They say that a new NAFTA could get wide support if the administration reopens NAFTA 2.0 and fixes it, given the current deal will not get through Congress with the new Democratic majority in the House.

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November 30, 2018

December 3, 2018

Public Citizen and Labor Council For Latin American Advancement Release Report Documenting 25 Years of NAFTA’s Disproportionate Damage to U.S. Latino and Mexican Working People

The report’s findings upend Trump’s xenophobic NAFTA narrative that blames Mexican workers for harming U.S. workers. The report’s analysis of the NAFTA 2.0 text in the context of the ongoing NAFTA-related damage to Mexican and U.S. workers alike spotlights why further improvements are necessary before a final revised NAFTA could achieve broad support in Congress.

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December 3, 2018

January 22, 2019

More Than 70 U.S. Health, Consumer and Other Groups Demand Elimination of NAFTA 2.0 Terms That Would Lock in High U.S. Medicine Prices

Patient advocacy, faith, consumer, labor and other public interest organizations send Congress  a letter opposing NAFTA 2.0 terms that would “lock in place existing U.S. policies that have led to high medicine prices, undermining the authority of this and future Congresses to implement important reforms to expand generic and biosimilar competition, lower medicine prices and expand access.”

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January 22, 2019

January 31, 2019

Faith Groups Urge Members of Congress to Eliminate ISDS, Promote Access to Medicines in NAFTA Renegotiation

In a letter sent to members of Congress, faith leaders say more progress must be made in order for a new agreement to reflect their vision for just and faithful trade policy.

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January 31, 2019

March 17, 2019

AFL-CIO Executive Council Statement: Trade Must Build an Inclusive Economy for All

The largest U.S. labor federation announces that if the administration insists on a premature vote on the new NAFTA in its current form, “we will have no choice but to oppose it.”

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March 17, 2019

April 1, 2019

U.S. House Ways and Means Committee Democrats Send Four Letters to Administration on Their Primary Concerns on NAFTA 2.0

The chair and Democratic members of the committee, which has jurisdiction over trade, send letters to the administration urging improvements on labor standards, environmental standards, pharmaceutical provisions and overall enforcement. These letters outline the four main concerns about which Democrats demand renegotiations of Trump’s 2018 NAFTA deal.

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April 1, 2019

April 18, 2019

U.S. International Trade Commission Projects Losses From Trump’s NAFTA Replacement

When using the standard methodology employed to wrongly predict major gains from past pacts, the USITC finds NAFTA 2.0 would slow growth and cost 54,000 U.S. jobs. Even using an alternative, cooked methodology to artificially inflate the numbers, this congressionally required report projects tiny gains of 35/100 of one percent in real GDP, 12/100 of one percent in employment and 27/100 of one percent in wages.

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April 18, 2019

June 13, 2019

Speaker Pelosi Convenes a Working Group to Negotiate With Administration on Necessary NAFTA 2.0 Improvements

The group includes fair trade champions Reps. Rosa DeLauro and Jan Schakowsky and other Democratic representatives committed to improving the labor and environmental standards and enforcement of Trump’s 2018 deal and eliminating its giveaways to Big Pharma. The group spends hours working on proposals and negotiating with USTR Lighthizer until the fall.

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June 13, 2019

June 25, 2019

“No Vote Until NAFTA 2.0 Is Fixed” Day of Action With U.S. Capitol Rally

More than 40 unions and consumer, environmental, faith and other organizations launch a “No Vote Until NAFTA 2.0 Is Fixed” day of action with an event in front of the U.S. Capitol to deliver more than 300,000 petitions calling for improvements to the 2018 NAFTA 2.0.

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June 25, 2019

July 11, 2019

100+ House Democrats Demand Elimination of Big Pharma Monopolies

A diverse group of New Democrats, Blue Dogs and Progressive Caucus members call for the elimination of provisions in Trump’s 2018 NAFTA deal that would keep drug prices high.

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July 11, 2019

September 12, 2019

Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) Calls for Elimination of Big Pharma Monopolies

This coalition of more than 300 institutional investors collectively representing over $500 billion in invested capital urges Congress to withhold a vote on the revised NAFTA until the Big Pharma monopolies are removed.

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September 12, 2019

September 12, 2019

Corporate “Fat Cat” Joins Other Industry Lobbyists at Event Pushing Vote on Trump’s Weak NAFTA 2.0

After months of consumer groups and labor unions demanding no vote until USMCA is fixed by eliminating big pharma giveaways and strengthening labor and environmental standards and enforcement, the corporate lobby continues to push Trump’s NAFTA 2.0 deal that would not stop NAFTA’s ongoing damage. Activists send a Corporate Fat Cat to their event in protest of their attack on workers, and to shed light on why Congress needed to fix USMCA.            

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September 12, 2019

November 6, 2019

AFL-CIO Industrial Union Council Releases Letter Opposing NAFTA 2.0 Without Pro-Worker Changes

The council of industrial unions of the AFL-CIO, the largest union federation in the country, sends a letter to Congress emphasizing that “acceding to demands from corporate interests to rush a vote will result in an agreement that once again fails U.S. workers.” The unions urge Congress to not bring NAFTA 2.0 to the floor unless and until it is significantly improved to reflect the unions’ core recommendations.

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November 6, 2019

November 18, 2019

AFL-CIO’s Trumka Says More Work Remains on NAFTA 2.0

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka declares, “Getting this done right is more important than getting it done fast. So until the administration can show us in writing that the new NAFTA is truly enforceable, with stronger labor standards, there is still more work to be done.”

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November 18, 2019

November 19, 2019

Speaker Pelosi and Rep. Richard Neal Release a Joint Statement on the Path to Reaching an Agreement On NAFTA 2.0

After meeting with AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and reviewing progress in House Democrats’ NAFTA 2.0 negotiations with USTR Lighthizer, Speaker Pelosi reiterates her commitment to making the new NAFTA agreement enforceable for America’s workers.

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November 19, 2019

November 20, 2019

Rep. Chuy García Organizes Labor and Civil Society Leaders to Demand Justice for Mexican Unionists Murdered During NAFTA Renegotiations

Rep. García spotlights murders of three labor activists at the Media Luna gold mine in Mexico by anti-union vigilantes during NAFTA renegotiations. A fourth, Oscar Hernández Romero, disappeared in September 2019. Activists rally in front of the U.S. Capitol with Rep. García and labor and faith leaders to urge Congress not to vote on NAFTA 2.0 unless its labor rules and enforcement mechanisms are strong enough to ensure that such horrors never happen again.

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November 20, 2019

November 22, 2019

Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) Releases a Statement on NAFTA 2.0

The CPC thanks House Democrat’s Trade Working Group for its work to ensure that necessary revisions are made to Trump’s NAFTA 2.0. The caucus rejects the false urgency for Congress to rubber-stamp a bad trade deal that allows President Trump to sell out workers, families and our planet. They urge their colleagues in Congress to take this opportunity to begin to repair the decades of damage caused by NAFTA, not lock in bad policies that wreak havoc on working families for generations to come.

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November 22, 2019

November 30, 2019

One Year After NAFTA 2.0 Was Signed Trump Continues Stonewalling Democratic Demands

This date marks one year from the signing of Trump’s NAFTA 2.0. For a year Trump has blocked progress on fixing NAFTA by refusing to strengthen anti-outsourcing terms and refusing to remove new Big Pharma giveaways that lock in high medicine prices. Meanwhile, the NAFTA trade deficit grows another 14%.

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November 30, 2019

December 10, 2019

Trump Concedes to Democrats’, Unions’, Activists’ Demands and Agrees to Reopen NAFTA 2.0 to Fix Key Terms

Three years of campaigning, persistence and commitment to fighting for a new deal that could actually stop some of NAFTA’s ongoing damage paid off when the Trump administration conceded to Democrats’ demands. The Big Pharma giveaways are eliminated. Strong labor and environmental standards and enforcement are added. In Mexico City, a new agreement is signed on December 10, 2019.

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December 10, 2019

December 19, 2019

Democrats’ Redo of Trump’s NAFTA 2.0 Passes House by 385-41

The new NAFTA is better than the original thanks to its virtual elimination of ISDS and the improved labor and environmental standards. But renegotiating NAFTA to try to reduce its ongoing damage is different than creating a good agreement that creates jobs, raises wages and protects the environment and public health. That would additionally require climate provisions, stronger labor and environmental terms, and truly enforceable currency disciplines —and the elimination of limits on consumer protections for food and product safety and labeling, the service sector, online platforms and more. The revised, revised deal is not a template for future deals, but the floor from which we will continue to fight for good trade policies that put working people and the planet first.

December 19, 2019

January 16, 2020

Democrats’ Redo of Trump’s NAFTA 2.0 Passes Senate by 89-10

January 16, 2020

January 29, 2020

Donald Trump Signs the New NAFTA

January 29, 2020

The new NAFTA is NOT a template for future agreements.

It sets the floor from which we will fight for good trade policies that put working people and the planet first.