Barrage of New NAFTA-style Trade Deals Won't Benefit Workers

April 5, 2013, 5:15 PM EST

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CAW Council delegates unanimously endorsed a recommendation to continue opposing a raft of new free trade agreements currently being negotiated by the Harper government.

CAW Economist Jim Stanford told delegates that federal negotiators are participating in 18 different trade deals - negotiations taking place concurrently and jokingly questioned whether trade negotiators are the fastest growing employment sector in the country.

"As we all know, free trade deals have little to do with trade or economic prosperity for workers," Stanford said, pointing to the significant decline in industrial jobs since Canada signed on to the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1993.  

Canada's trade performance has deteriorated since the worldwide financial crisis and recession in 2008 and 2009. In addition, Canada's trade deficit in manufactured goods topped $100 billion in 2012 - a far cry from the $12 billion surplus Canada enjoyed in 1996. 

Stanford expressed particular concern over proposed trade deals with Japan, a multi-lateral agreement called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) as well as an accord with the European Union that's expected to be firmed up within months.

Stanford also expressed concern the impact each of these new deals with have on Canada's hard-hit auto sector, noting that further tariff reduction will fuel more imports and further entice corporations to jurisdictions where production costs are lower.

"Corporations have no national allegiance," Stanford said.

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