Trump wants to terminate NAFTA if Mexico and Canada do not accept his conditions

Trump wants to terminate NAFTA if Mexico and Canada do not accept his conditions

Oct 11, 2017

There is a strong likelihood that US President Donald J. Trump will withdraw the United States from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Robert Zoellick, a former US trade representative, said at the Atlantic Council on October 5, while advising US lawmakers to be prepared to push back.

“There is a very serious risk [of Trump withdrawing from NAFTA] depending on what happens with Trump’s popularity and the investigations [into collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia] that at some point he will withdraw from the agreement,” said Zoellick, who has also served as a US deputy secretary of state and president of the World Bank.

“I think we are headed to a fundamental crackup here… It partly depends on whether the Congress makes it painful for the administration to go in this direction,” he added.

The United States, Mexico, and Canada are currently renegotiating NAFTA. Negotiators will meet in Washington next week for a fourth round of discussions. NAFTA will feature prominently on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s agenda when he visits Washington and Mexico City next week. Trump, meanwhile, has threatened to terminate the deal.

Zoellick recalled a conversation that he had with Henry Kissinger in which the former secretary of state said that in his experience presidents want to be successful and so Trump will eventually move toward the norm.

“If you define success the way Kissinger or I would, that would be true,” said Zoellick. “If you define success as responding to applause or political realignment then look at where Trump tends: it will be anti-immigrant, it will be war with Mexico, it will be protectionist on trade. These impulses are not going to go away.”

Following his keynote address, Zoellick participated in a panel discussion with Phil Levy, a senior fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs; Javier Mancera, a former minister for trade and NAFTA affairs at the Embassy of Mexico in Washington; and Daniel Schwanen, the Toronto-based vice president of research at the C.D. Howe Institute. Jenny Leonard, an associate editor at Inside US Trade, moderated the discussion.

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