WASHINGTON, D.C. – Policy teams representing the Teamsters Union from the United States and Canada on hand during the fourth round of NAFTA renegotiations this week are applauding the decision to fix the NAFTA cross-border trucking provision.
The priorities of the union representing 1.4 million workers in North America, included highway safety, dairy supply management, and worker rights. Also on the table during this round were key discussions regarding the auto sector and manufacturing, and trade disputes.
Teamsters general president Jim Hoffa said independent truckers and highway safety advocates will be pleased with the U.S. position on cross-border services.
“The [United States Trade Representative’s] approach is a creative solution to this long-standing controversy,” he said. “I am satisfied that the U.S. position will permit Congress and the Dept. of Transportation to safeguard the livelihoods of American truck drivers and the personal safety of American families on U.S. highways under NAFTA 2.0.”
Teamsters Canada President François Laporte said Canadian Member of Parliament (MP) and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chrystia Freeland, and Canadian negotiators have a progressive, pro-worker approach to the talks.
“We hope that the other parties will commit to a strong and enforceable labor chapter, grounded in the initial Canadian proposal, which would serve as a model for protecting workers’ rights in future trade agreements,” said Laporte.
As well as representing the trucking industry, the Teamsters represents North American’s dairy industry. Laporte said the United States has launched a violent assault on Canada’s dairy supply management system, and warned tens of thousands of jobs could be lost if Canada’s dairy workers were not defended.
The union is also closely watching discussions surrounding dispute resolution measures in the agreement. The U.S. is proposing an opt-in feature to the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions, hoping to narrow the scope dramatically.
Current ISDS provisions allow for investors that have a dispute with countries under the agreement to bring the dispute to an international arbitrator in order to sue for damages.
The Teamsters said they would be hard-pressed to support a final agreement that doesn’t limit future ISDS cases to claims of direct expropriation.
This round of talks concluded today with Freeland saying that although the talks have made significant headway, the United States’ winner-take-all proposals on the auto sector would push back the clock on gains Canada and Mexico are not prepared to give up.
The stalemate on certain issues mean the talks have been extended into 2018, with the groups coming to the table again in Mexico in a month to continue working towards a deal.