Trump to terminate NAFTA to pressure Congress on USMCA
December 3, 2018
President Donald Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One on the return trip from the Group of 20 meeting in Buenos Aires that he will terminate the North American Free Trade Agreement and give Congress six months to approve the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.
According to a transcript of his remarks released by the White House, Trump said, "I will be formally terminating NAFTA shortly. Just so you understand, when I do that, if for any reason we're unable to make the deal . . . then Congress will have a choice of approving the USMCA, which is a phenomenal deal. Much, much better than NAFTA. A great deal."
Asked by a reporter whether it is accurate to say it is a six-month termination, Trump said, "Say that it's a six-month term, and … I'll be terminating it within a relatively short period of time. We get rid of NAFTA. It's been a disaster for the United States. It's caused us tremendous amounts of unemployment and loss and company loss and everything else. That'll be terminated."
"And so Congress will have a choice of the USMCA or pre-NAFTA, which worked very well," he said. "You got out, you negotiate your deals. It worked very well."
But whether the pressure on Congress will work is still unclear.
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Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, told CNN on Sunday, "The work is not done yet. I understand the president said it's final."
"The president needs to talk to Congress on this. And we can go back to the table with the Mexicans and the Canadians and do stronger labor standards. Mexico hasn't even passed … its promised strengthening of labor standards and labor law that it said it would do during these negotiations.
"There is now a new Mexican president who is more pro-worker than the outgoing president that signed USMCA," Brown said.
"I'm hopeful, with the House of Representatives where it is, with the labor movement, with labor, with workers all over the country telling me they want stronger labor enforcement standards — you don't just sign this away, because this does — this doesn't live up to the promise the president said, that it would be a renegotiated NAFTA, helping workers and stopping outsourcing, because it doesn't do that yet.
"I'm hoping that it will. And I have been talking to the U.S. trade representative [Robert Lighthizer] for months and months and months on . . . strengthening the labor enforcement. We will still get there."