President Donald Trump has been admonished by his supporters due to a bevy of broken campaign promises, but on the crucial issue of trade, he has not wavered. Trump re-affirmed today that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) would be renegotiated under terms more favorable for American workers or trashed completely.
“I decided rather than terminating NAFTA, which would be a pretty big, you know, shock to the system, we will renegotiate,” Trump said to reporters in the White House. “Now, if I’m unable to make a fair deal, if I’m unable to make a fair deal for the United States, meaning a fair deal for our workers and our companies, I will terminate NAFTA. But we’re going to give renegotiation a good, strong shot.”
Reports circulated earlier in the week that Trump was preparing to sign an executive order to remove the United States from NAFTA immediately, similar to how he terminated American involvement in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in January. Trump has walked back those sentiments, but withdrawal will remain on the table depending on how negotiations are handled.
Overhauling globalist trade agreements has been a primary staple of Trump’s political rhetoric, dating back many decades. While Trump has pivoted on other issues, trade is the issue where he has maintained a consistent position.
“I think a lot of other people are tired of watching other people ripping off the United States,” Trump said to Larry King back in 1987. “This is a great country. They laugh at us. Behind our backs, they laugh at us because of our own stupidity… I believe it’s very important that you have free trade, but we don’t have free trade right now.”
Trump had previously stated his preference for bilateral trade agreements that he could negotiate with each individual country. Although Trump has changed his tune regarding NAFTA slightly, he has given himself a clear out if the negotiations go south. NAFTA, at least in its present form, is likely in its death throes.