Bernie Sanders Tells Trump to Keep His Promise on NaftaBy
Former Democrat presidential candidate urges Trump to deliver
Pro-trade Republicans, U.S. business oppose American demands
President Donald Trump is finding an unlikely ally in his efforts to overhaul the North American Free Trade Agreement: the political left.
Civil-society groups, union leaders and left-wing politicians have opposed almost everything Trump has done. But they’re urging him to stand firm in his attempt to overhaul Nafta -- and face down opposition from business groups, who complain that U.S. companies will be hurt by the proposed changes. Mexico and Canada have called U.S. demands unworkable, including on regional-content requirements for cars and investor-state dispute systems.
Senator Bernie Sanders, an outspoken critic of trade deals in his campaign for president last year, called on Trump to deliver. “When Donald Trump campaigned for president, he promised that he was going to stop corporations from shifting American jobs to Mexico,” Sanders said Wednesday at a rally for the #ReplaceNafta movement in Washington. “For once in your life, keep your promises.”
Many pro-trade Republicans oppose the most contentious U.S. proposals, which the administration says will lure manufacturing back to America. Trump may need votes from the left if he hopes to pass a revised Nafta. That means courting organizations such as advocacy group Public Citizen, which opposes much of Trump’s agenda, including his views on climate change and bank regulations. However, the non-profit is tentatively backing several U.S. positions at the negotiating table, including a push to eliminate tribunals that arbitrate disputes between governments and companies.
“I am more optimistic that there could be a trade agreement we would support and fight for, than I have been in decades,” said Lori Wallach, global trade watch director of the non-profit group. Public Citizen wants additional changes, including stronger environmental and labor standards, she said.
Negotiators are meeting this week in Washington, with the next round scheduled for Montreal in January. Trump has said he’ll withdraw from Nafta if Canada and Mexico don’t agree to American demands.