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Trump Reportedly Drafting Order To Leave NAFTA

| by Jordan Smith

President Donald Trump is reportedly drafting an executive order that would see the United States withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

An announcement on the matter could be made as soon as April 27 or 28, a White House official told Politico.

The news prompted a mixed response from lawmakers, with some labeling the move a "disaster."

"I think we'd better be careful about unintended consequences," said Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, according to Politico.

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Article 2205 of NAFTA allows a member country to withdraw from the agreement by giving six months written notice to the other member countries. NAFTA is made up of the United States, Canada and Mexico.

"NAFTA's been very, very bad for our country," Trump said in a speech in April. "It's been very, very bad for our companies and for our workers, and we're going to make some very big changes or we are going to get rid of NAFTA once and for all."

Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona said withdrawing would have "the worst possible impact" on his state.

"It's inconsistent with what Wilbur Ross told me previously about their intention, which was to update NAFTA, not to withdraw from it," Cornyn added.

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Some speculated that the move may be seen by the Trump administration as a negotiating tactic.

Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona noted that Trump had to be careful not to damage American producers and businesses in the process.

"It's not a zero sum game," he said.

Democrats were also critical.

"Dairy is exported a lot into Mexico right now, so if we lose that market it would wipe out perhaps half of our milk producers overnight," said Democratic Rep. Ron Kind of Wisconsin. "And we are selling a lot of agriculture products into the Mexican market, so a NAFTA withdrawal would, I think, be devastating for production agriculture, just to start with -- not to mention manufacturing products that we have going down there as well."

This was underscored by business representatives.

"We must not disrupt the $1.3 trillion in annual trade that crosses our borders," Tom Donohue, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said April 24. "Under NAFTA, Mexico and Canada are the top two U.S. export markets in the world by a long shot. The jobs of 14 million Americans depend on the agreement."

But the reported order also has its supporters.

"NAFTA needs to be renegotiated, at a minimum," Republican Rep. Mike Conaway of Texas told Politico. "All three economies are dramatically different than they were in in the '90s when that was done, so it is an appropriate time to renegotiate."

Canada responded to the news April 26 by stressing its willingness to hold negotiations.

"At this moment NAFTA negotiations have not started. Canada is ready to come to the table at any time," a spokesman for Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said, according to Reuters.

Sources: Politico, Reuters / Photo credit: Shealah Craighead/Wikimedia Commons

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