On December 12, 2017 the House Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing titled, “The Future of the North American Trade Agreement.” The North American Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is a trade agreement signed by Canada, Mexico, and the United States to remove barriers and eliminate tariffs between the countries.
The Trump Administration is looking to withdraw from the agreement, a key campaign promise from President Trump. The President views NAFTA as an unfair agreement that has led to a loss of jobs, and has promised to withdraw unless provisions favoring the United States are added. On January 23, 2017 the President signed an executive order to renegotiate NAFTA to make it more favorable to the United States.
Several stakeholders discussed the impact that such a renegotiation might have on the American economy in the House hearing. Daniel Allford, President of ARC Specialties, discussed the massive impact of tariffs on businesses ability to be competitive in the global market. “I can beat the competition, but I can’t beat the tariff,” said Allford, who supported maintaining a U.S. presence in the NAFTA agreement. Celeste Drake, Trade and Globalization Policy Specialist at the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, stated that while we shouldn’t necessarily back out of NAFTA completely, we should look at replacing NAFTA’s labor and environmental rules which Mrs. Drake says are not currently being monitored and enforced.
The general consensus in the room was that NAFTA is beneficial to the U.S. economy and increases both jobs and competition for businesses, but that it could use some modernization. The President has been a part of several talks throughout 2017, and negotiations have now been pushed into 2018 with an unclear path ahead.
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