Friday, May 19, 2017

Republicans defend NAFTA

Fischer, Flake lead congressional call for support of NAFTARipon Advance News Service - U.S. Sens. Deb Fischer (R-NE) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) led a letter on Monday that highlighted the positive impacts of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the potential consequences of abandoning the trade deal.

The letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer was signed by 18 senators, including U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Jerry Moran (R-KS), John Thune (R-SD), Mike Rounds (R-SD) and Pat Roberts (R-KS).

“Given that the agreement is more than two decades old, there are areas in which NAFTA will benefit from strengthening and modernization,” the letter states. “On the other hand, efforts to abandon the agreement or impose unnecessary restrictions on trade with our North American partners will have devastating economic consequences.”

The senators noted that NAFTA has led to “tremendous growth” in U.S. trade with Mexico and Canada, and that it has “integrated cross-border supply chains that benefit U.S. employers, and more than tripled U.S. exports of goods, including agricultural and manufactured goods, and services.”
U.S. trade policy has been a prominent issue in recent months, the letter acknowledges, and taking a fresh look at NAFTA will be an immediate priority.

President Donald Trump had discussed terminating NAFTA as recently as last month, but had said he would delay such a move after the president of Mexico and the prime minister of Canada urged the United States to renegotiate rather than scrap the deal.

“If I’m unable to make a fair deal, if I’m unable to make a fair deal for the United States, meaning a fair deal for our workers and our companies, I will terminate NAFTA,” Trump said on April 27 in remarks during a meeting with the president of Argentina. “But we’re going to give renegotiation a good, strong shot,” he added.

The group of senators who signed the letter and who represent states that see a significant economic impact from trade said they will maintain a keen interest in the on-going process surrounding NAFTA.

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