Economy

We Don’t Know What Trump Trade Officials Want, But They Want it Every 5 Years

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

While Canadian and Mexican trade officials have made it fairly clear what they'd like to see out of trade talks with the Unites States, we still don't really know what the Trump regime hopes to gain by renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Even though we don't know what the Trump regimes wants, they'd apparently like to go through this process every five years.

Ross told a forum hosted by Politico that both he and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer had agreed on the need for such a sunset provision for quite a while and would “put it forward” in the NAFTA modernization talks, but it was unclear whether Canada and Mexico would back it. [...]

“The five-year thing is a real thing, would force a systematic re-examination,” Ross said. “If there were a systematic re-examination after a little experience period, you’d have a forum for trying to fix things that didn’t work out the way you thought they would.”

As far as the United States is concerned, scheduling a regular five-year negotiating period would be no different than scheduling a two or four-year period, because those are the only moments when anyone in America including members of Congress take time to cluelessly bleat about international trade.

The only reason we're even having this discussion right now is because Trump and a coalition of certain liberals made outrageous claims about international trade during the 2016 election. Trump asking Canada and Mexico to come to the negotiating table without a clear goal in mind is the result of campaign bluster that they'd apparently like to repeat on a biannual basis.

If you're one of those people who believe uncertainty is bad for business, turning trade into a political football every two to four years in perpetuity is a nightmare. It's an invitation to turn the bedrock of the global economy into sound bites and slogans every other year until even our closest trade partners are sick to death of dealing with American incoherence and fragility.

It seems unlikely that Canada and Mexico will agree to this for the reasons I just outlined. It's also possible it could be only thing all three parties can agree to because, in a way, it would be like kicking the can down the road for the rest of time.

  • 1933john

    It’s an Artful Deal to Re-Deal and
    claim a Big Deal has been made.

  • muselet

    Well, it’s not absolutely the stupidest idea to come out of the Trump administration, but it is in the top five.

    –alopecia

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