Trump Weighs Canceling NAFTA to Push USMCA Approval Through Congress

( REUTERS/Edgard Garrido )

President Trump and his advisers are weighing whether to cancel the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to force through the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). Jim Wiesemeyer of ProFarmer said if this move is taken, it would present Congress with a hard choice. 

“It could be that he withdraws [from NAFTA] before [USMCA ratification] even reaches Congress,” said Marc Short, former White House director of legislative affairs. “I think there’s a high probability of that, yes.”

Wiesemeyer said if the U.S. formally withdraws from NAFTA, Trump would set a hard deadline of six months for Congress to approve the USMCA or face having tariffs reintroduced on substantial portions of the approximately $1.3 trillion worth of trade between the U.S., Canada and Mexico. 

Congress will have to make a choice of the USMCA or pre-NAFTA, which worked very well, Trump said.

“We are very confident that Congress will approve USMCA,” said Emily Davis, a spokesperson for the U.S. Trade Representative, in a statement provided by the White House press office. “From the beginning, Ambassador (U.S. Trade Representative Bob) Lighthizer has worked closely with Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate on the renegotiation of this agreement.”

At this juncture, Wiesemeyer said the Democratic-controlled House will likely wait to consider the USMCA, with some earmarking the March-April timeframe at the earliest. Before that occurs, Democrats will insist on several enforcement mechanisms relating to environmental and labor provisions embodied in the USMCA. 

Tariffs Continue to Affect Pork Industry

Bill Even, CEO of the National Pork Board, said the retaliatory tariffs are continuing to impact the pork industry.

"We're still moving product internationally, but we've seen two things," Even said. "The product moves to different markets, for example South Korea is a great bright spot, but then we've seen the price of product decline equivalent to the tariff. In other words, we move a lot of ham to Mexico, and there's a 20 percent tariff. Guess what -  the price of ham to Mexico dropped roughly 20 percent."

President Trump joined the leaders of Mexico and Canada in signing the USMCA on Nov. 30 in Buenos Aires. 

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