A renegotiated North American Free
Trade Agreement (NAFTA) should have strong protections for women, says Canadian
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who argues that gender equality is about more
than fairness; it’s an economic issue as well.
On Oct. 13, Prime
Minister Trudeau told the Mexican Senate that promoting the rights of workers
and women was one way to avoid the growing global isolationist movement that is
free trade’s worst enemy.
taking hold in too many corners of the world, but our people must not succumb
to fear,” Prime Minister Trudeau told the Mexican Senate during his first
official visit to the country. “Our challenge lies in ensuring that everyone
benefits from economic growth. And we do that by pursuing an ambitious,
progressive vision of what the future can—and should—look like.”
leader also met with advocates of reproductive rights during his time in Mexico
and spoke out against the violence women face in Mexico and elsewhere. His
challenge to Mexico’s gender-balanced Senate to “use your position and power to
strongly push for the rights of women and girls in Mexico and around the world”
received a standing ovation. Mexico uses quotas to ensure that women are
represented in government.
NAFTA was ratified
nearly 25 years ago, and while economists say it has added trillions of dollars
to the gross national products of its three signatory nations (the United
States, Mexico and Canada), critics note that outsourcing much U.S.
manufacturing to Mexico due to that country’s lower wages has hurt the United
the three countries started talks in August, but progress has been slow. An
Oct. 17 report by
CNBC said Canadian and Mexican
trade negotiators are set to reject a U.S. proposal that any new trade deal
must favor the United States and would then end in five years unless renewed by
all three countries.