Washington, D.C. – Today, as Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau meets with President Trump for bilateral discussions, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) is urging the President to act on his campaign promise to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Senator Casey stresses the importance of protecting American workers’ interests through improvements to NAFTA. Citing rules of origin provisions and investor-state dispute settlement rules, among other issues, Senator Casey outlines key provisions necessary to strengthen protections for American workers.
Since 1994, over three million workers have been certified for the Department of Labor’s Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program. Our trade surplus with Mexico has shifted to a trade deficit, soaring to over $63 billion in 2016. With a level playing field, American workers can out-compete those in any country in the world.
The full text of Senator Casey’s letter can be found below:
Dear President Trump:
For too long, American trade policies have left American workers, including many in my home state of Pennsylvania, behind. As a candidate, and as president, you pledged to renegotiate aspects of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). I urge you to keep this promise to American industry and American workers to secure key improvements to NAFTA that will better serve the people of Pennsylvania and the nation.
Since NAFTA went into effect, the economy of the Commonwealth, and the livelihoods of the workers who reside there, have been hit hard by trade. American workers are put at a disadvantage by multiple factors, including Mexico’s lax enforcement of labor and environmental standards; rules of origin provisions which for some products end up giving NAFTA benefits to products containing components imported from China; rules that compromise the United States’ ability to enforce its trade remedy laws; and investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions. This presents significant employment challenges to workers who have spent years refining skills in their chosen profession, only to see their opportunities leave Pennsylvania for other areas of the world. It also leads to wage loss as workers are forced to take lower-paying jobs. A 2014 study in the Review of Economics and Statistics by four economists concluded that “occupation switching due to trade led to real wage losses of 12 to 17 percentage points between 1984 and 2002.” Since 1994, over three million workers have been certified for the Department of Labor’s Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program. We also saw a goods trade surplus with Mexico shift to a growing deficit that reached $63.2 billion in 2016.
Congress has a central role in any trade negotiation. Accordingly, I hope you will soon present your objectives to Congress outlining the changes you seek in NAFTA, so the renegotiation process can begin.
Workers in Pennsylvania and across America can out-compete any worker in the world if the playing field is level. Yet, for decades our trade policies have compromised the wages and jobs of the very workers who make our economy the envy of the world, while our trade assistance policies have failed to meaningfully help our communities and workers impacted by trade. I strongly urge you to fulfill the promises you made to workers in Pennsylvania and states across the country as you move forward with your trade agenda. I also hope to draw your attention to the enclosed concerns expressed to past administrations on Chinese trade and economic espionage practices, and I urge you to take a strong stance to enforce U.S. trade laws and protect American workers, industries and intellectual property.
I look forward to advancing our mutual goal of bringing home better trade agreements that benefit all Americans.
Robert P. Casey, Jr.