President Donald Trump is off to a quick start when it comes to acting on his campaign promises.
After immigration, trade policy was a major talking point for then-candidate Trump. After winning the election, he began individually negotiating (and in some cases, threatening) a number of corporations who had planned to move jobs overseas. Now, he’s coming through on a key campaign promise: to renegotiate the trade deals he’s criticized.
As Reuters reported: U.S. President Donald Trump said on Sunday he plans talks soon with the leaders of Canada and Mexico to begin renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement.
“We will be starting negotiations having to do with NAFTA,” Trump said at a swearing-in ceremony for his top White House advisers. “We are going to start renegotiating on NAFTA, on immigration and on security at the border.”
NAFTA, which took effect in 1994, and other trade deals became lightning rods for voter anger in the U.S. industrial heartland states that swept Trump to power this month.
Trade experts, academics and government officials say Canada and Mexico will also seek tough concessions and that NAFTA’s zero-tariff rate would be extremely difficult to alter. Any renegotiation would likely take several years, they say.
Trump said he would be meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto to begin work on overhauling the deal. He praised Pena Nieto, who has faced low popularity in Mexico due to corruption scandals and rising inflation.
“The president has been really amazing,” Trump said. “I think we are going to have a very good result for Mexico, and the United States, and everybody involved.” Critics of Pena Nieto say he lacks a clear plan to counter Trump’s calls to limit trade and deport illegal immigrants.
It’s needless to say that NAFTA, as currently negotiated, has disproportionately benefited Mexico’s economy.
Everyone should be in favor of free trade, but free trade “agreements” are often free trade in name only. As the Foundation for Economic Education noted back in 1993; “NAFTA is over 1,700 pages long–741 pages for the treaty itself, 348 pages for annexes, and 619 pages for footnotes and explanations. It is difficult to see how 1,700 pages of government rules and regulations can free trade. By definition, free trade is the removal of government from the trading process, not its expansion.”
Well put. How many pages do you need to define what “free trade” is? It should take a few sentences at most.
[Note: This post was authored by Matt Palumbo. Follow him on Twitter @MattPalumbo12]