ADEA Washington Update

Prime Minister Trudeau Spotlights Women’s Rights During NAFTA Talks

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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.

“Isolationism is 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.”

The Canadian 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 States.

Negotiators from 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.

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