Ryan on NAFTA: we need a new model


By Kalea Hall

khall@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

While automation has led to some job loss, local workers have also seen their workplaces close and go overseas, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan said.

That’s why Ryan and other lawmakers say there needs to be a new trade model that benefits American workers and doesn’t outsource jobs like the current North American Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA.

NAFTA went into effect Jan. 1, 1994.

The agreement between the U.S., Mexico and Canada lifted tariffs on the majority of goods produced in the three nations.

“There [have been] so many changes since NAFTA was written, so we have to very seriously take a look at the changes and come up with something that will benefit workers,” Ryan said. “We need a new model that works for everybody. It should be the U.S. leads a new era of global trade.”

The first round of renegotiations of the trade act are to begin today between the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

Ryan of Howland, D-13th; Rosa DeLauro, a Democrat from Connecticut; Celeste Drake, trade policy specialist with the AFL-CIO; and Lori Wallach, director Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, discussed on a Tuesday conference call with reporters what they want to see occur in the NAFTA renegotiations.

They want NAFTA’s investor incentives that drive outsourcing removed, enforceable labor and environmental standards and tighter rules of origin added.

“It’s done serious economic damage,” DeLauro said. “People are in jobs that do not pay them enough to live on.”

Those who had manufacturing jobs that went overseas are now in the service sector, which has “stagnant income and sluggish growth,” DeLauro said.

“We have a historic opportunity to change the future of American trade,” she said. “If big corporations are allowed to drive NAFTA [renegotiations] then the deal will be worse than today’s.”

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat from Cleveland, shared what he wants to see happen with NAFTA in an op-ed for USA Today.

In the piece, he calls for a reset that guards against outsourcing.

“We know exactly what causes outsourcing: low wages, exploited workers and weak or nonexistent environmental protections in other countries,” Brown wrote. “That’s why this time, we must secure strong anti-outsourcing provisions up front, before we even sit down at the negotiating table.”

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