Testimony & Letters

Testimony of Open Markets fellow Beth Baltzan to the House Ways & Means Committee on “Enforcement in the New NAFTA”

May 22, 2019

Open Markets fellow Beth Baltzan testified as a witness to the House Ways & Means Committee on “Enforcement in the New NAFTA.” Her testimony, based in part on a piece she published in the Washington Monthly, pointed to the principles unratified Havana Charter as a solution to global trade. The charter “included rules that guaranteed workers’ rights, provided protections against destructive foreign investor behavior, and required trading nations to abide by anti-monopoly rules.”

In her testimony she stated:

“The question of enforcement is acute when it comes to labor and environment. As discussed further below, although the original architects of the multilateral trading system included enforceable labor rights as part of the regime, the American business community rejected their vision.

Ever since, it has been a struggle to have labor rights appropriately seen as economic issues, affecting conditions of competition, rather than as “social” issues that are not really “trade” issues. Further, the system has been structured to prioritize the interests of multinational corporations, which are the beneficiaries of the ability to arbitrage labor and environmental standards.

As a result, even after May 10th, the enforcement record on labor and environment is poor. Even if the dispute settlement mechanism in NAFTA were fixed, experience tells us that it would not be enough to deliver real results for labor and the environment. Innovative measures are needed to ensure that labor and environmental enforcement is effective.”

Read the full testimony here.