Thursday, February 28, 2008

Our neighbors are not happy

The FT reports:

Candidates rebuked for attacks on Nafta

Mexico and Canada on Wednesday voiced concern about calls by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, as the Democratic presidential hopefuls compete to adopt the most sceptical stance towards free trade ahead of next week’s Ohio primary election.

In a televised debate on Tuesday night, Mr Obama and Mrs Clinton both threatened to pull out of Nafta if elected president unless Canada and Mexico agreed to strengthen labour and environmental standards.

Arturo Sarukhan, Mexico’s ambassador to the US, told the Financial Times that the US, Canada and Mexico had all benefited from Nafta and warned against reopening

“Mexico does not support reopening Nafta,” he said. “It would be like throwing a monkey wrench into the engine of North American competitiveness.”

Mexican diplomats believe a renegotiation could resurrect the commercial disputes and barriers to trade that the agreement itself was designed to overcome.

Tufts prof Daniel Drezner comments:
Democrats cannot simultaneously talk about improving America's standing abroad while acting like a belligerent unilateralist when it comes to trade policy.

Update: Related news:

[Canadian] Federal Trade Minister David Emerson hinted that if the North American Trade Agreement were to be revisited, a provision giving United States priority access to Canadian oil would be on the table.

Emerson declined to shrug off the anti-NAFTA talk by two Democratic presidential candidates as political posturing in a U.S. election year.

Outside Parliament on Wednesday, Emerson said: "There's no doubt if NAFTA were to be reopened, we would want to have our list of priorities," and hinted that U.S. access to Canadian oil could be one of them.