Remember the North American Free Trade Agreement, or as President Donald Trump calls it, the “worst trade deal”? His intense rhetoric toward NAFTA won the hearts of voters—particularly in the Midwest and particularly with auto workers who blamed the agreement for a loss of industry jobs. Heh, funny story. It now seems his administration’s actually not looking to destroy the deal.
According to the Wall Street Journal, a draft proposal circulating in Congress keeps some more controversial provisions of NAFTA, like secretive arbitration tribunals that have long been the subject of criticism.
However, the proposal does call for reinstating tariffs if a flood of imports cause “serious injury or threat of injury,” according to the WSJ, citing the eight-page document. Studies have indicated the cost of cars could jump several thousand dollars if Trump’s administration reinstates tariffs.
This of course has automakers on edge. U.S. automakers have continued to shift small car production to Mexico, keeping their focus here on truck and SUVs. A significant tariff—or Trump’s consideration of a border tax—could disrupt the auto market drastically here.
The proposal could still be altered. But it signals the administration isn’t looking to push things as far as Trump made it seem, and leaves things open for further negotiations. Trump’s administration has to give Congress 90 days’ notice under our trade laws before formal negotiations can begin.
But, for the most part, it seems the Worst Trade Deal Ever will remain mostly intact. It should be interesting to see what all of those voters in the Rust Belt states have to say about this.