Find out more about our upcoming lectures and seminars.
28 Sept 2022, 3-4:30pm - PEC Seminar
Speaker: Prof Laura Macdonald (Carlton University, Canada and UofM Hallsworth Visiting Professor)
Title: "An Inclusive Trade Agenda and the US-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement: Feminist and Labour Rights Contestation"
Location: University Place 3.214
Abstract: The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is commonly seen as launching a new era of neoliberal globalization in the region, characterised by a “race to the bottom” in wages and social standards. Labour activists decried the weakness of the labour side accord, which they viewed as toothless, and feminists denounced the way in which neoliberal restructuring exacerbated traditional gender disparities, particularly in Mexico’s maquiladora sector. The re-negotiation of the NAFTA under the Trump administration resulted in the eventual approval of the United States-Canada-Mexico Agreement (USMCA) in 2019, which many characterised as merely NAFTA 2.0. Nonetheless, despite the right-wing character of the Trump administration, the agreement contained several novel elements that may signal the emergence of a more “inclusive” approach to trade, particularly around labour rights in Mexico, but also to a more limited extent around gender relations in the region. This presentation will review debates regarding so-called inclusive approaches to trade, examine the dynamics around the negotiation of the USMCA and its provisions around labour rights and gender. It will document how civil society actors are using the agreement to combat the race to the bottom, and evaluate the potential use of trade agreements to promote labour rights and gender equality.