Mon, Dec 03, 2018 - Page 5 News List

Trump planning for NAFTA exit in bid to pass new pact

Bloomberg

US President Donald Trump said he would soon tell the US Congress of plans to terminate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a move that would give lawmakers a six-month window to ratify the new regional trade pact signed on Friday between the US, Canada and Mexico.

“I will be formally terminating NAFTA shortly,” Trump told reporters late on Saturday aboard Air Force One as he returned from the G20 summit in Argentina. “So Congress will have a choice between” the new deal, known as the USMCA, or potentially no continental trade deal at all.”

The threat, if enacted, would effectively remove a safety net from under the new trade pact’s journey through Congress.

It needs to be ratified by lawmakers in the three countries, and in the US, it will almost certainly be taken up by the next Congress, where Democrats will have a majority in the House of Representatives starting next month.

Some Democrats are warning they may not be satisfied by the terms.

Trump’s statement may also be a bluff — or prove harder than he thinks.

Under terms of the existing 1994 NAFTA pact, the president can give six months’ notice of withdrawal, though it is not binding.

However, US lawmakers have said that Congress would still need to repeal NAFTA’s legislation to fully kill it.

Trump, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and then-Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto signed an authorization for the deal on Friday morning in Argentina on the sidelines of the G20, with their ministers signing it shortly after.

Some US lawmakers, both Democrats and Republicans, have called for changes to the pact, although US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has expressed confidence it would pass.

He said he was in talks already with Democrats, and appeared unfazed.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called the agreement “a work in progress” in a statement released on Friday evening.

“We are waiting to see enforcement provisions relating to workers and the environment,” she said.

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