Let's not kid ourselves, Trump's NAFTA bluster matters

NAFTA Round One: Gordon Johnson Weighs In On Free Trade's Effects On Steel, Manufacturing

One week into talks to renegotiate NAFTA, President Trump lobbed another grenade over his so-far-imaginary Mexico border wall, telling a rally in Phoenix on Tuesday night that "I don't think we can make a deal". It went into effect in 1994.

Talks began Wednesday in Washington, D.C., among trade officials from the United States, Canada and Mexico on modernizing the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Trudeau's response Wednesday afternoon was to stay the course.

"I am mindful that his comments might be part of a negotiation tactic, however, negotiating a significant trade agreement and negotiating a building acquisition are two different things", said Jon Barela, CEO of the Borderplex Alliance, an economic development group that represents El Paso, Ciudad Juarez and southern New Mexico. "They (Mexico and Canada) have made such great deals - both of the countries, but in particular Mexico - that I don't think we can make a deal".

What is NAFTA trade treaty?

"Trump's a good business man, he's a very good negotiator and that's his style of negotiation", said Tony Bennett, president of the Texas Association of Manufacturers.

"Mexico's negotiating strengths stem from the deep economic integration between the USA and Mexico, and the negative impact that a disruption in supply chains and trade flows would have to key components of the United States economy", BMI said Wednesday in a note to clients. "We're not going to get rattled by this". Reducing technical trade barriers and the improving logistical movement of products, he said, would benefit all three countries.

Gary Blundell, program manager for the Canadian Arctic Resources Committee, said he's hoping that whatever Canada is pushing for might include something to protect the Porcupine caribou herd and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge that the herd relies on.

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Trump's comments looked set to devalue a strong rebound in USA stocks on Tuesday, when they enjoyed their best one-day percentage increases in over a week as lawmakers' comments on tax reform and the debt ceiling increased investor optimism. We have to give notice, and after the notice is given, you have to wait a long time. President Trump withdrew from that deal earlier this year, though the other 11 nations have agreed to revive TPP without USA participation.

A Canadian official made similar comments Thursday, telling Reuters that Trump's comments didn't come as a surprise.

The United States, Canada and Mexico wrapped up their first round of talks to revamp the trade pact on Sunday, with little sign of a breakthrough coming.

And yet, many Mexicans acknowledge that risks remain and are wary that the Trump administration could impose unacceptable demands that could hurt booming industries such as auto manufacturing.

"The actions by his trade team are measured" he said. "Congress has not repealed that legislation, and they've given no indication they intend to".

According to Trump, the deal which provides for tax-free trade between the three countries is taking vehicle plants and jobs away from the USA to low-wage Mexico.

He said he hopes Canada can get a new deal done, but the government has to prepare for the possibility of NAFTA being torn up.

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