After three rounds of talks to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement, and with a fourth round scheduled for Oct. 11-Oct. 15, Mainers are waiting to see if the Trump administration will follow through on its campaign promises to make sure trade deals benefit working families instead of just corporate elites.

Maine has lost more than 32,000 manufacturing jobs since NAFTA went into effect in 1994, and the U.S. Labor Department has certified that more than 25,000 Maine jobs have been lost to either direct offshoring or displacement by imports since NAFTA. Many of the Mainers who lost their jobs were forced to take new positions that paid much less.

NAFTA should be replaced with a trade agreement that includes enforceable labor and environmental standards that are strong enough to discourage multinational corporations from offshoring Maine jobs. This would help create new markets for Maine exports.

Any new NAFTA deal should also remove the controversial investor-state dispute settlement provisions that undermine our democracy. These trade tribunals give corporations the ability to sue our government when our elected representatives pass laws that protect us and make our lives better.

NAFTA and all the other trade agreements that have followed the same failed model need to be replaced. It’s time to put the needs of working people before profits.

Matthew Beck

South Portland

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