National Faith-Based Organizations Urge Better NAFTA Deal

November 30, 2018
Washington, DC

Today the leaders of Canada, Mexico, and the United States gathered to sign the renegotiated NAFTA agreement, renamed the US/Mexico/Canada Agreement (USMCA). The text signed today falls short of our moral vision of trade policy.  

As faith-based organizations and religious bodies with constituencies in the U.S. and around the world, we believe the goal of U.S. trade policy should be to promote sustainable development and livelihoods for all. 

A  year ago, 16 faith-based organizations outlined our principles by which we would evaluate any renegotiated agreement. The agreement signed today must be remedied in key ways in order to live up to those principles. 

“As we work on the ground in communities often most impacted by trade and investment agreements, Columbans urge all Members of Congress to consider what such agreements would look like if negotiated from the perspective of the most vulnerable, including the environment. We do not believe the current renegotiated NAFTA reflects what is required to fully ensure trade policy sustainably uplifts all,” Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach Director Scott Wright commented. “While advances were made in some of our principles, we believe all must be upheld for the wellbeing of the most vulnerable and creation.” 

"The NAFTA 2.0 text has some positive and needed changes, but more work is needed to guarantee that NAFTA 2.0 helps all working families. We must reject a model that puts the wealthy and big corporations in control. We’ll continue to work to ensure that a final deal going to Congress next year will stop NAFTA’s ongoing damage to workers and the environment." Sr. Simone Campbell, SSS, Executive Director of NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice 

“For over twenty years, the United Church of Christ has called for the renegotiation of NAFTA given inadequate protections it offered for worker rights, farmers, and the environment. Although the new NAFTA agreement offers much needed changes, such as ending dangerous Investor State Dispute Settlement tribunals (ISDS), it still falls short in several key areas.  It is critical that environmental standards are raised, and the loophole that preserves ISDS for nine U.S. oil and gas companies be eliminated. Additionally, the move from 8 years to 10 years of market exclusivity for medicines is unacceptable.  This provision will keep life-saving medicine further out of the hands of those who desperately need them, a clear violation of our faith values and moral call to help those in need.”  Sandy Sorensen, Director of the Washington Office, United Church of Christ 

“Maryknoll missioners worked for many years with indigenous and other smallholder farmers in Mexico. They witnessed how NAFTA destroyed the livelihoods of rural farming communities,” said Susan Gunn, Interim Director of the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns. “Rather than fixing provisions that have hurt small farmers throughout North America, the new NAFTA will further erode efforts in Canada and Mexico to support the livelihoods and sovereignty of family farmers while doing little to nothing to improve the lot of family farmers in the United States. Once again, it is corporate agribusinesses that will reap the benefits - not farmers.”  

Now is the time for Members of Congress to set a strong precedent in just and faithful trade policy by making the necessary changes to the agreement signed today.

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For more information
Contact: Wesley Cocozello, Communications and Programs Coordinator
Office: 202-635-5814 | Email: wcocozello@columban.org 

About the Columban Center
The Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach (CCAO) is a ministry of the Missionary Society of St. Columban in the United States. CCAO works for structural change within the US and is guided by the Gospels, Catholic Social Teaching, and the experience of Columban missionaries standing in solidarity with marginalized communities and the exploited earth in 16 countries around the world.