(Nathaniel Parish Flannery – Forbes)
In early 2018 the Trump administration has continued to stubbornly insist that trade relations with neighbors Mexico and Canada will be re-calibrated to favor U.S. interests. Trump keeps threatening to simply withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) if he doesn’t get what he wants. In a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal he said, “Now, Mexico may not want to make the NAFTA deal, which is OK, then I’ll terminate NAFTA, which I think would be frankly a positive for our country.”
Trump’s broader agenda is also clouding the environment in which the talks are taking place. He continues to falsely insist that the U.S. needs a border wall because Mexico is the world’s most violent country. On January 18 he tweeted a warning that Mexico is “now rated the number one most dangerous country in the world.” Trump is also continuing to push an anti-immigrant message. At some point Trump’s border wall-building hysteria and anti-immigrant rhetoric may make it harder for Mexico to continue to participate in the discussions about NAFTA.
For now, however, representatives of all three countries remain cautiously optimistic about NAFTA’s future. After the latest round of talks concluded in Montreal Robert Lighthizer said, “We finally began to discuss the core issues, so this round was a step forward. But we are progressing very slowly.” Mexico’s Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo predicts that the three countries will arrive on an agreement on the areas of telecoms and digital commerce when the countries re-convene discussions in Mexico City in February. Click here to read more.