NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, signed in 1994 by the governments of the USA, Canada and Mexico, was supposed to have been a boon to consumers, boosted employment and strengthened economies north and south of the border. Reality has been very different. Local laws have been overturned in favor of corporations not even based in the same country. Court decisions have been vacated by NAFTA tribunals that are completely unaccountable to the citizenry. In Mexico thousands of farmers have been forced out of their livelihood when U.S. agricultural conglomerates dumped cheap corn and hogs on the market.  

NAFTA also installed a corporate bill of rights, allowing corporations to launch legal challenges against governments when the legislations of one of the ‘partner’ countries proves a barrier to that corporation’s bid for profit. When a government is sued and deemed in violation of NAFTA, penalties are paid from the public purse. Some of these costs are already well documented. When California attempted to ban MTBE, a toxic gasoline additive, the Canadian manufacturer sued the state for nearly $1 billion. When a Mississippi court ruled in favor of a small funeral home against the Canadian funeral conglomerate Loewen Group, the corporation successfully sued the state, leaving the American judicial system at risk. US based UPS sued the Canadian Postal Service for offering similar delivery services.


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