Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Obama and NAFTA: From Free Trade to Fair Trade

One of the issues I've paid some attention to since the Presidential campaign has been the position of the candidates on Free Trade Agreements. In spite of his rhetoric to reassess Free Trade Agreements and renegotiate them, Obama has always been somewhat vague and non-committal when it came down to policy specifics on what such reassessments and renegotiations might look like. And so I've wondered where he would fall out in the end.

Well, I'm still not completely sure of what an Obama trade policy might look like, but it seems like when it comes to NAFTA, Obama seems to be tilting more towards converting this particular Free Trade Agreement into a welcome Fair Trade Agreement.

Laura Carlsen, of the Americas Program of the Center for International Policy, has a great rundown of what Obama's recent meeting with Mexican President Felipe Calderon means regarding the future of NAFTA. And her take is uplifting to Fair Trade Obama supporters like me, who don't oppose "Free" Trade in principle, as long as there is fairness and equity built into the process and as long as the trade really is "Free" in its larger dimensions, particularly as it relates to trade in labor.

Carlsen concludes her excellent analysis with the following:
The Obama statement from Jan. 12 indicates the president-elect will stand firm on renegotiating NAFTA. It may no longer be a question of "will he or won't he." To confront the crisis and establish mutual well-being in the region, the debate must move quickly now to "how and when."
And that's an encouraging thought.

[Crossposted at The Huck Upchuck]

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