In this file:
· Trump's vow to terminate NAFTA pressures Congress to bless new deal
· Trump Expected to Rescind NAFTA to Force Passage of USMCA
Trump's vow to terminate NAFTA pressures Congress to bless new deal
Josh Wingrove, Laura Litvan and Jennifer Epstein, Bloomberg News
Dec 3, 2018
President Donald Trump’s threat to terminate the existing North American Free Trade Agreement puts pressure on U.S. lawmakers to limit the changes they want in a new regional pact signed to great fanfare last week by the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
Trump declared late Saturday that he’d soon notify Congress of his intention to terminate NAFTA, a move that would give lawmakers six months to bless the deal to replace it. Even though the new agreement was signed by Trump and other leaders on Nov. 30, it must also be ratified by lawmakers in the three countries. Trump’s essentially leaving them a choice: take the new deal, or no deal at all.
In the U.S., the new agreement is all but certain to be taken up by Congress next year, when Democrats regain a majority in the House. Key Republicans and Democrats are withholding their support from the new pact, -- known as the USMCA -- and want to extract changes, most likely through legislation needed to implement the deal.
Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, a fierce NAFTA critic who has said he worked with the administration in re-negotiating the deal, said Sunday “the work’s not done yet” and there’s still an opportunity to ask Mexico to strengthen labor requirements.
The USMCA “doesn’t live up to the promise the president said of a renegotiated NAFTA,” Brown told CNN’s “State of the Union” without saying how he plans to vote.
The path for Trump to kill the current NAFTA is muddied. Under the existing agreement, the president can give six months notice of withdrawal, although that’s not binding -- he can give it and then never actually withdraw.
If he did quit, U.S. lawmakers would have to repeal laws that enact it, and may balk at doing so. It raises the prospect of Trump quitting, nullifying parts of the pact while other elements linger under U.S. law amid a fight with Congress -- or of him giving notice of quitting and then, after six months, declining to do so.
Trump’s termination threat, if carried out, would essentially remove a safety net from under the new agreement’s journey through Congress, leaving lawmakers less leeway to demand revisions. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, an architect of the deal, is open to changes, but only to a point. The U.S. can tuck some changes into the trade deal’s implementing legislation and request that Mexico and Canada go along with it.
“The negotiations are not going to be reopened, right? The agreement’s been signed,” Lighthizer said to reporters Friday after the new accord was signed at the Group of 20 summit in in Buenos Aires. “We’ll get the support of a lot of Democrats, a very high number of Democrats. Absolutely, just no doubt about it.”
Named by Trump as the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement -- though neither Canada nor Mexico is calling it that -- the deal will replace the 1994 Nafta pact in the three countries, which trade US$1 trillion annually. Talks for a Nafta refresh began in 2017 under threats by Trump that he’d quit Nafta if he didn’t get a better deal, so Saturday’s comment so the president, effectively, come full circle.
The new deal got early backing from one key figure in the debate:
Trump Expected to Rescind NAFTA to Force Passage of USMCA
Colin Robertson - Canadian Global Affairs Institute
Farmscape for December 4, 2018
The Vice President of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute expects the U.S. President to rescind the North American Free Trade Agreement to Pressure Congress into passing the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.
Last week the United States, Canada and Mexico signed the USMCA.
Colin Robertson, the Vice President and a fellow of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, notes it still has to be sealed by the legislatures in all three countries and, while he doesn't anticipate problems in Canada or Mexico, the big question is the American Congress.
Clip-Colin Robertson-Canadian Global Affairs Institute:
By the time Donald Trump's implementing legislation and that's the key here, is introduced into the Congress, you'll have a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives and that's a shift as a result of the November elections.
The new Congress takes office January 3rd.
It shouldn't be a problem in the Senate where Donald Trump has a slim majority but in the House, even if all the Republicans vote for it, they'll have to pick up at least 20 or 25 Democrats to support it as well.
In many ways he's in the same situation that Bill Clinton was in 1994 when he wanted to implement the original North American Free Trade Agreement and most Democrats in the House of Representatives voted against the NAFTA but a majority of Republicans supported it and he was able to secure enough Democratic votes for it to pass in both the House and the Senate.
But, of course, the relationship between Democrats and Donald Trump is pretty frayed and Nancy Pelosi, who is likely to be the next speaker of the House of Representatives may decide to take a page from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's book who, when Barack Obama, was President of the United States, basically refused to pass anything that had Barack Obama's support behind it.