Trump Gets Tough with NAFTA, Says U.S. Could Leave

Donald Trump CPAC 2013. Photo by Gage Skidmore.

As reported by Business Insider:

The presumptive Republican nominee said that one of his top priorities would be the renegotiation of NAFTA, which eliminated a number of tariffs and state and local barriers on trade when it went into effect in the mid-1990s.

Trump said, according to prepared remarks distributed by his campaign:

“I’m going tell our NAFTA partners that I intend to immediately renegotiate the terms of that agreement to get a better deal for our workers. And I don’t mean just a little bit better, I mean a lot better.

“If they do not agree to a renegotiation, then I will submit notice under Article 2205 of the NAFTA agreement that America intends to withdraw from the deal.” (emphasis mine)
What are we to make of this? Within the conservative wing of the Republican Party, the vast majority of people believe free trade must be protected, but Trump, perhaps ironically given his background in business, has long argued America’s “bad” trade deals need to be restructured.
Contrary to what many other constitutionalists will tell you, I actually don’t totally disagree with Trump on this point. Free trade is good, but only when everyone is operating under the same rules. If people are able to operate with completely different rules applied to them, then I’m not sure one can even say fairly that free trade actually exists. That doesn’t necessarily mean we should have tariffs on the nations who don’t have similar economic policies, but it does mean that conservatives need to seriously discuss what free trade actually means within the context of a global economy that includes quasi-socialist nations.
With all that said, Trump’s attack on NAFTA is more than a bit foolish. Until we know exactly what he means by “renegotiate,” it’s hard to understand the threat or understand why anyone should take it seriously. I agree NAFTA has had a lot of negative consequences, but the goal shouldn’t be to threaten isolationism. If the other NAFTA members call his bluff, he’s going to look pretty foolish or the United States is going to be in a world of hurt.
Read more at Business Insider:
Photo: Donald Trump CPAC 2013. Photo by Gage Skidmore.