from the living-agreement dept
Last year, we noted that despite repeated promises to the contrary, both the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the South Korea-US Free Trade Agreement (KORUS) have turned out disastrously for the US. Unperturbed by this minor detail, the US government is already starting to prepare the ground for NAFTA 2.0, as thestar.com reports:
Twenty years after free trade began remapping the North American economy, the U.S. insists it is open to a sequel aimed at improving job prospects across the continent.
Given the sweeping nature of NAFTA, that raises the question: what would be in such an agreement? Here's a hint, in the words of a senior US official:
What's the second act? The other part of the challenge is . . . sound bytes. You've got to figure out a way to make people understand what we're trying to do. So when we're talking about trying to improve regulatory co-operation, that's great. Now tell me what that actually means?
In fact, we have a pretty good idea thanks to TAFTA/TTIP. According to the European Commission's own predictions (pdf), four-fifths of the (wildly-optimistic) GDP boost that is supposed to flow from an "ambitious" transatlantic agreement comes from removing "non-tariff barriers" through just this kind of "regulatory co-operation." What that means is actually deregulation: removing "barriers" like health, safety, environmental and financial regulations that all get in the way of boosting corporate profits.
We even know how that strategy could be implemented. Last month, Corporate European Observatory published a leaked European Commission position paper (pdf) that spells out how TAFTA/TTIP would be turned into a "living agreement" through the creation of a "Regulatory Council", which would have wide-ranging powers to shape the regulatory environment on a continuing basis. Expect something similar from NAFTA 2.0.