man in nikes in front of NAFTA graffiti

(Image: Flickr / Woody Wood)

This week, labor, environmental, religious and other groups, representing over 180 million people from around the world, sent a letter to a corporate mining CEO — a letter that is also a wake-up call for President Trump’s trade agenda.

The letter highlights the problems with the so-called “investor-state” provision in trade deals, first created through the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) 23 years ago. This provision unfairly prioritizes corporations, encouraging them to file lawsuits against governments that implement public health and other measures that impede future corporate profits.

Back to the letter in a moment, but first the dilemma that it highlights for Trump: In one of Trump’s first public statements as president, on Jan. 22, he called for the renegotiation of NAFTA to (as he puts it) help U.S. workers.

So far, the media focus has been on Trump’s suggestion that he wants to increase tariffs on U.S. imports from Mexico. But NAFTA and other trade agreements are only in small part about trade tariffs. They are much more about giveaways to fleet-footed corporations, giveaways that further encourage corporations to offshore their production and jobs.

Read the full article on The Hill’s website.

John Cavanagh is the director of the Institute for Policy Studies. Robin Broad is a professor at American University’s School of International Service.