Trump Threatens to Kill NAFTA - Again

Daniel Fowler
December 4, 2018

Aboard Air Force one after the G20, Trump told reporters he would be "formally terminating NAFTA shortly" and sending the new agreement to Congress for approval.

Trump, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and just-departed Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto signed the NAFTA replacement at a ceremony - during the recent G20 Summit.

He said it's clear U.S. lawmakers are in the first stages of negotiations toward ratifying the U.S. -Mexico-Canada Agreement, known as CUSMA in Canada, and USMCA in the U.S.

If Trump ends NAFTA, Congress would have 60 days to approve USMCA or both trade deals would be void.

That would trigger a six-month waiting period before the United States could leave the pact - during that time, U.S. lawmakers would be asked to approve the new deal signed on Friday with America's neighbors. "We look forward to working with Congress to get USMCA passed into law as quickly as possible".

The Democrats, who say the USMCA has some shortcomings, take control of the U.S. House of Representatives next month.

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Trump has made renegotiating NAFTA a centerpiece of his presidency.

Meanwhile, a number of lawmakers and business groups are trying to push for the removal of US tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada and Mexico, which have inflicted harm upon American manufacturers and consumers, raising costs for a wide array of industries. If Trump pulls out of NAFTA and the House rejects the new pact, it could deal a major blow to North American free trade.

The United Auto Workers, a longtime critic of NAFTA, raised similar concerns after the ceremonial signing of the trade pact in Buenos Aires.

A 2016 congressional research report said there is a debate over whether a president can withdraw from a trade deal without the consent of Congress, and there is no historical precedent for the unilateral withdrawal from an free trade deal by a president that had been approved by Congress.

The ambassador said he's pleased that a side letter to the treaty assures Canada that no similar tariffs can be applied to cars made in Canada and exported to the United States.

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