Representative Sandy Levin (D-MI) issued the following statement regarding yesterday's presidential election in Mexico:
"The election of the new Mexican President provides an opening to address the key flaw in NAFTA. There is an opportunity to improve conditions for workers and communities in all three countries and increase vital purchasing power for economic growth.
"The lack of enforceable labor and environmental standards twenty five years ago permitted trade and competition to be built on the lowest standards, harmful to the people of Mexico, Canada and the United States. It encouraged and entrenched in Mexico an industrial policy of cheap labor built on workers having no rights and no voice. This condition undermined building a middle class and deepened income inequality in Mexico and contributed to job loss and income stagnation in the U.S.
"Until now there has been a failure to clearly and forcefully address the key issue of labor rights in Mexico, which requires a major change both in the language of laws and in vital practice in Mexico. This issue has at times been overshadowed by the discussion of other concerns, including a sunset provision, which could unfortunately postpone the need for immediate major change, and ISDS, which is in need of reform, but is not central today in Mexico where there is use of large scale financial payments to lure and outsource industry to Mexico, not to penalize it. Nor can the disequilibriums be resolved simply through any rules of origin restructuring.
"If NAFTA is to be appropriately renegotiated, it must focus on the substance of the agreement, rather than trying to squeeze it through during a lame duck regime in Mexico or in a lame duck U.S. Congress before the end of this year. Failing to do so would undermine its effectiveness and would cost any significant Democratic support in Congress.
"Failure to shape NAFTA to make it work for typical families led to strong opposition 25 years ago. It helped lead to the heightening of opposition to globalization and handicapping those who want to deal constructively with its real life consequences. We cannot afford to continue to make that same mistake."