Making good on one of his campaign promises, Trump has set in motion the imminent renegotiation or complete withdrawal from one of the largest trade agreements in the world, known as NAFTA.
The North American Free Trade Agreement brings Canada and Mexico together with the United States into a free trade pact that the Clinton White House enacted with a built-in timeline that the Trump administration is setting to trigger.
Trump has already removed the US from participation in the TPP, Trans-Pacific Partnership. That agreement between 12 Asian nations and the US was envisioned by the Obama administration as a way to bolster its influence over trade in the huge Asia-Pacific market.
The President’s move to issue an executive order in the very near future has alarmed lawmakers on both sides of the aisle in Congress, saying the US withdrawal from NAFTA could end in “disaster.”
Senate majority Whip John Cornyn said, “I think we’d better be careful about unintended consequences.”
President Bill Clinton signed NAFTA into law in 1994, removing tariffs and allowing for free flow of supplies and merchandise between the USA, Canada and Mexico. While campaigning Trump promised to renegotiate the deal, or else end the US participation in it. In recent weeks the rhetoric from the White House has increased in its vitriol against the trading partners, once again using threatening language he hasn’t resorted to since his election. He once again called for an end to the agreement entirely, creating alarm among legislators.
“NAFTA’s been very, very bad for our country,” he said in a speech last week in Kenosha, Wis. “It’s been very, very bad for our companies and for our workers, and we’re going to make some very big changes or we are going to get rid of NAFTA once and for all.”
At least four Republicans with clout called for Trump to slow down. Senator John McCain of Arizona said that a pull-out from NAFTA would have “the worst possible impact” on his state.
“I’d be glad to have renegotiation of some of the terms of it, because a lot of time has passed,” McCain said, saying that a withdrawal would “be disgraceful and a disaster.”