By on February 13, 2017

Donald Trump

After several weeks spent wondering just how the continent’s trade landscape will look after president Donald Trump renegotiates the North American Free Trade Agreement, the business world now has a slightly clearer picture of where the pieces may land.

Trump spoke briefly about his trade goals with both Mexico and Canada after meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the White House.

By all appearances, the agreement will change very little for the U.S.’s northern neighbor. During his first days in office, Trump said plainly that he hoped to renegotiate or completely rewrite agreements with other countries. However, there’s little doubt that Trump will push for far greater changes to goods moving across the Rio Grande.

“We’ll be tweaking it,” Trump told reporters when asked about the trade agreement between the U.S. and Canada. He didn’t go into details on what industries might be impacted the most. Trump did say that any trade disparity between the two countries is “a much less severe situation than what’s taken place on the southern border.”

The two men agreed to work together for the benefit of industry and jobs on both sides of the border, reaffirming the two countries’ shared economic interests.

The remarks should help diffuse anxiety felt by automakers and suppliers who feared the financial disruption of a possible northern border tax. While the proposed Mexican border tax wasn’t mentioned, Trump implied that a trade solution wouldn’t be imposed on the U.S.’s southern neighbor.

“We’re going to work with Mexico,” he said. “We’re going to make it a fair deal for both parties.”

What that agreement will look like, and how it will impact automakers, remains to be seen.

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74 Comments on “Trump’s NAFTA Remarks Point to Few Changes for Canada, Plenty for Mexico...”


  • avatar
    Doug in IL

    Why be hostile to a country with no military hostility toward us, but friendly toward Russia? This guy doesn’t understand economics and/or foreign policy. He needs advisors – bigly – and he needs to listen to them.

    • 0 avatar
      Master Baiter

      Saying you want to re-examine trade policy is now “hostility”? It’s amazing how anti-Trump people mis-label everything the guy does.
      .
      .

      • 0 avatar
        WhatsMyNextCar

        A) I’m not anti-Trump. I think he’s done a fine job with his executive orders, although the immigration one was rolled out extremely poorly. I think he needs to do MORE executive orders – what’s taking so long on his “day one” repeal of ACA? Point is – someone doesn’t have to be pro- or anti-Trump. I think about his policies, not the politician.

        B) He has repeatedly espoused a hostile trade policy toward Mexico.

      • 0 avatar
        Astigmatism

        Accusing a country of sending “rapists” who are “bringing crime” to infiltrate your country, and telling them you’re going to charge them $20 billion to build a wall between your two countries and charge them intentionally punitive tariffs if they don’t comply, sure sounds hostile to me. If you want to defend him, go ahead, but it’s a bit silly to pretend that we haven’t all witnessed the belligerence we’ve seen over the last eighteen months.

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          That’s not belligerence, that’s just master baiting.

        • 0 avatar
          Master Baiter

          “it’s a bit silly to pretend that we haven’t all witnessed the belligerence we’ve seen over the last eighteen months.”

          It’s a simple negotiation tactic to make outrageous demands up front so that, when you reach your actual desired position, it seems to your opponent to be reasonable by comparison.
          .
          .

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            It’s a negotiation tactic that doesn’t work very well. It just makes you look either clueless or like you’re negotiating in bad faith. Either one doesn’t give the other side much reason to play ball seriously. I’ll leave it as an exercise to the reader to determine which one applies to the president.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Negotiation by insult may work with Internet board trolls.

            It may work as well with heads of state.

      • 0 avatar
        quasimondo

        It is when you threaten 20% tariffs on everything being imported from that country

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Neither nation on the border has the capability and delivery system to destroy the Earth several times over. Also the Russians have not wantonly encouraged their citizens to violate federal immigration laws. Oh and also State Dept/Pentagon has apparently ditched the Grand Chessboard warmonger strategy and are attempting to drive a wedge between the one clenched fist of the PRC and KGB dominated Soviet Union, er Russia, so its kinda complicated (oh also our bad on killing hundreds of thousands of Syrians, Libyans, Ukrainians, and Iraqis over the past decade, but what difference does it make?).

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        “Also the Russians have not wantonly encouraged their citizens to violate federal immigration laws.”

        Well, if the Bering Straits were easier to cross than the Rio Grande, you can bet your bottom dollar millions of Russians would flee the s**t show in their home country, just like Mexicans do.

        The only real difference is geography.

        We don’t have a problem with illegal immigrants from Canada because it’s not a failed narco-state where no one can make a living. Not sure how giving Mexico a raised economic middle finger fixes the domestic problems that country has, but that’s Trump for ya…this looks good to his supporters, and that’s all he can see.

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        We have long tried to drive a wedge between the PRC and Soviets; the Soviets were fearful of the rise of the PRC rivaling their hegemony and of the population disparity in the Far East (also, the PRC wasn’t too happy when the Soviets pushed for the independence of a large chunk of Mongolia).

        And while our govt. may have ended up killing hundreds of thousands Iraqis, Afghanis, etc. (haven’t really killed many Syrians and Ukrainians – that’s the Russians), it was for the “greater good” no matter how misguided it may have been, unlike the Russians who are killing people to keep or increase the Russian sphere of influence.

        And our govt. has yet to shut down/take over the media outlets (no matter how much Drumpf may like to do so), much less assassinate reporters.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I don’t believe the Sino-Soviet split, esp after Mao’s death. All disformation.

          “it was for the “greater good” no matter how misguided it may have been”

          Christ on a bike, listen to yourself.

          Ok for the greater good I would like the President to target the entire Third World and Middle East with the US nuclear arsenal and fire. Greater good and all will certainly lead to peace.

          “much less assassinate reporters”

          How about a grand jury on the DNC criminal conspiracy against Bernie Sanders and arrest reporters shown to be working for the conspirators as accessories to the crime? Oh wait yeah, above the law, how foolish of me.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Believe it, 28. The Russians and Chinese traded shots.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sino-Soviet_border_conflict

            Why do you think the Chinese wanted Nixon to open relations with them?

            And as far as some “criminal conspiracy” against Bernie Sanders is concerned…pffft. Did the party leaders want Clinton to win? Yes. Did they engage in dirty politics against him? Yes. Is that a criminal conspiracy? No. In the end, Sanders just got outvoted, and by a wide margin.

            Is it somehow criminal for a party’s leadership to want a certain candidate to win? No. Look back at 2008 – the DNC wanted Clinton that year too, but voters had a different take on it. Same thing happened in the GOP last year – the party leaders wanted no part of Trump, for reasons that should be all too obvious by now. Voters went another way. Back room politics? Of course. Criminal? No way.

            And what if Sanders had won the nomination? I think he’d have lost in the general election.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            I can’t understand how you still cling to the belief that the internal workings of the Democratic party are somehow set by law.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            My dad grew up in the Siberian Far East right on the Amur River, believe me the Chinese were a much bigger worry/adversary than the US back then (at least to people living near the border with them). He’s told me stories from when he was a kid in the 60s when tensions would rise and the Soviets would send in huge columns of tanks on trains to the border. The village kids would steal vodka to trade the tank crews for their tanker helmets (to then play hockey in) as the trains passed through the small depot villages along the railway.

            FreedMike is right, things went hot in the mid 60s over an insignificant island on a border river after Mao activists hacked some Soviet border guards who were under strict orders not to shoot. A bit of back and forth escalated into the Chinese bringing in a sizable force onto the islands, and things reached a crescendo when the Soviets turned said island into a moonscape with MLRS fire.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Canada “steals” U.S. jobs the same way Mexico does. Makes you wonder why Trump doesn’t single THEM out.

    Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm……………..why would that be?

    He’s playing to his base. I don’t think the guy knows how to do anything else.

    • 0 avatar
      Detroit-Iron

      A mostly non-corrupt first world nation cannot have a free trade agreement with a profoundly corrupt third world nation. Setting aside the relative wage difference, there is no rule of law in Mexico. Even if they had, say, environmental or work protection laws on the books, there is no way to enforce them.

    • 0 avatar
      Detroit-Iron

      you racist prick.

  • avatar
    bertvl

    If NAFTA was just between the US and Canada there wouldn’t be much of a problem. The question is whether, during a renegotiation, Canada would throw Mexico under the bus in return for a good bilateral deal. I think we can be certain that the answer is: yes.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Actually, even after NAFTA was put in place, for a significant period of time, the US had a greater trade deficit with Canada than with Mexico (as recently as 2008, there was a greater trade deficit with Canada).

      Ironically, it was NAFTA which helped drive Mexican immigrants up to the US – as cheap, corporate farming produce, often govt. subsidized (esp. corn), from the US devastated the local/village small farmer as they simply couldn’t compete.

      US corporations flocked to China, not Mexico for the cheap labor.

      But over the past decade or so, as the cost of doing business in China has risen (due to the rising cost of labor, etc.) and other factors such as wanting to have a shorter supply-chain, more and more US companies have looked to Mexico as the source of cheap labor (the FTAs Mexico has with Europe and South America also helped drive this).

      Ironically, the corporate farms (which pushed for NAFTA) and the large family farmers (such as those in California which supported Drumpf) are now wringing their hands as tariffs would hurt food exports to Mexico (and imports, as many of these corporate farms now have huge operations in Mexico) and the large family farms in California’s produce region are having trouble finding enough workers to harvest their crops.

  • avatar
    Jeff Waingrow

    A so-called president.

  • avatar
    Dan

    There are no losers at free trade between economic peers. Canadian labor and environmental laws are broadly similar to ours. Canadian line workers aren’t paid $2.70 an hour like Mexican ones are. A larger market benefits both parties.

    Canadians also speak our language, share much the same heritage, and bled and died next to Americans in two world wars. That puts them at the very head of the line for favorable dealings no matter how much some people who know better would like to pretend that it shouldn’t.

  • avatar
    Fred

    Has anyone in the administration studied history? Can anyone point to a case where protectionism worked?

    • 0 avatar
      OldManPants

      Nothing works for more than a couple of generations or so but blowing the f*ck out of Germany and Japan was pretty beneficial for a while.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      Chinese auto industry?

      • 0 avatar
        OldManPants

        Hey, yeah, good one. Requiring JVs helped speed China’s development but that is attached to a corporate and personal culture of base greed and grasping amorality that will literally make its wheels fall off.

        Nothing can erase the psychological programming achieved by millennia of insectoid overpopulation in any navigable areas.

    • 0 avatar
      VW4motion

      This so called administration does not even know the history of the Federalist Papers, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison. Let alone the history of the world and protectionism.

    • 0 avatar
      CrapBox

      It worked great for Napoleon until about 1812, when he invaded Russia in order to compel the Czar to stop trading with those dastardly Mexicans… I mean Englishmen.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    Glad we have all these arm chair presidents on here that know so much more than the man who receives world wide intelligence updates daily. I can see you all honestly believe your much smarter than him, keep it up I’m enjoying it.

    At the end of the day Trump won and he’s our president, all the bitching in the world isn’t going to change that. The more violent and vitriolic the rhetoric gets on the left the quicker the Democratic Party dies. The day Pelosi was re-elected her position was a day to celebrate. America couldn’t have been happier to put her back in the position that helped create a path for Trump to be elected.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      “receives world wide intelligence updates daily”.

      How can any one say that without laughing?

      There have been bits of information leaked to the media stating that the CIA and other USA security agencies are WITHHOLDING information from the President and his key advisers. There are those within the US security apparatus that feel some of them should have their security clearances revoked. Trump has wanted security briefings shortened to one page memo’s.

    • 0 avatar
      WhatsMyNextCar

      I don’t think you are doing him any favors by defending his stupid moves. When he does well, applaud him. When he screws up, let him know. Trump is a guy who needs guidance. Without it, he has shown his tendency to do stupid things. Case in point – Tweeting about Nordstrom’s business dealings regarding Ivanka while he’s attending a national security briefing. He needs to be corrected. Otherwise, he will be the next Jimmy Carter.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Hummer’s entire argument, in a few words: It’s OK if Trump screws up, because I hate Democrats.

      “Conservatives” like this guy can whine all they want about “violent leftists” – and if they do, I’d sure like them to name one as violent as that well known leftist Tim McVeigh, but I digress – but they got nothin’. No ideas. No real beliefs.

      F**king sad.

    • 0 avatar
      mtmmo

      Hummer – Well said but naturally lots of Trump Derangement Syndrome snowflakes will get upset. One of them will even try to push their x-wife’s phone number on you. Imagine that the guy is dumped by his x-wife because he’s a low-wage beta male and he wants to get revenge by giving out her phone number on the internet. Those TDS snowflakes can be really pathetic.

      • 0 avatar
        WhatsMyNextCar

        Wut?!

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        “low-wage beta male”…. I wonder which electoral demographic that one falls into?

        “Trump Derangement Syndrome”
        How original.

        A bastardization of Bush Derangement Syndrome coined by neoconservative pundit Charles Krauthammer.

        I looked up “Special Snowflake Syndrome” – This is the behavior demonstrated by someone with that ailment:

        “This condition, if left untreated, can radically alter the carrier’s demeanor, to include any of the following: a complete devolution to child-like behavior, temper tantrums, and/or fits of narcissistic rage.”

        Wow……

        Orange Snowflake In Chief

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Dear mtmmo:

        Your request to troll has been reviewed and declined. You’ll have to get your negative attention elsewhere.

  • avatar
    agent534

    Free trade with Mexico has always been a horrible deal. Mexico’s gdp per capita today is $18.5K vs $56k for the US & $44k for Canada. Mexico doesn’t have the money to buy goods from the US or Canada, they were never going to be anything but a supply of cheap labor. We used to get oil in return for the jobs sent there, but that has changed. Oil imports from Mexico are currently source number 4 behind Venezuela, with Canada sending us that much more oil. Now it seems we are exporting more petroleum to Mexico than we are importing ( https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=29892 ). A free trade deal with Mexico makes even less sense now than it did when Ross Perot warned us all about that giant sucking sound.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      Actually, Mexico is quite a good customer of the U.S. The US bought $294 billion of goods from Mexico, and Mexico bought $231 billion from the U. S.. Note that those figures don’t include services, I suspect if they were included, that trade deficit would narrow.

      If Trump wants to deal with the trade deficit, he can start with China, as 40% of our merchandise trade deficit is with them. Also, Mexico’s economic system is much more compatible with ours, and unlike China, Mexico is not pushing expansionist policies and worrying its neighbors.

      It would sure be nice if Americans lost their taste for illegal drugs, that would be a huge benefit to our southern neighbors.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        @FormerFF – China offsets that trade deficit by investing heavily in the USA. They own trillions of USA debt. That is how they manage to keep their currency low relative to the USA dollar.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          Read today’s Bloomberg article regarding countries holding US debt. These countries are winding back investing in USD.

          This has the potential to reduce what Trump can borrow for his grand plans.

          I see Trump having problems delivering his promises.

          If it was as easy as Trump made out it would of been done already.

      • 0 avatar
        agent534

        At at price of a $56billion trade deficit and a net 15,000 jobs lost annually in the US due to NAFTA. The auto industry in the US lost 350,000 jobs alone due to NAFTA. North of 600,000 jobs total have been lost to NAFTA. Wage stagnation lingers for the jobs that remain. All for a minor bump in GDP that ends up in the pockets of the Walmarts of the world,and allows economic con men to try and spin NAFTA as having a positive effect in the US.

        You know NAFTA is pretty bad when the best defense of it is to point out what a horrible deal the WTO and trade with China is.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          @agent534 – all depends on which data one wants to use. If one looks at job growth overall, that improvement offsets jobs lost in manufacturing.

          “Specifically within NAFTA’s first five years of existence, 709,988 jobs (140,000 annually), were created domestically.”

          It has been mentioned multiple times that most jobs lost in the USA have been due to technological change. Automation accounts for approximately 85% of lost jobs.

          The high cost of post secondary education and the lack of investment and/or focus upon shifting workers into skilled trades is also a factor.

          • 0 avatar
            agent534

            @Lou_BC Looking at overall growth, you see a net job loss of 15,000 a year for NAFTA.

            Automation is not anything new. There have been constant increases in productivity since the dawn of manufacturing. Productivity increases were once coupled to wage increases. Now you have free trade depressing and decoupling productivity and wages.

            On the skilled trades side, you have corporations sponsoring cheap H1B labor and depressing workers on that end.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            agent534 – depends on how you want to look at the numbers. Those lost jobs are depending on how you do your accounting just like the numbers I post show net growth. Tariff opponents are fixated upon a narrow piece of the picture. Ther has been a loss in manufactuing but a coresponding gain elsewhere in the economy.
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NAFTA's_effect_on_United_States_employment

            Those manufacturing jobs have been lost. That is true. But overall, free trade has had a net benefit, i.e. more overall jobs. Educational needs of those unskilled workers have not been met. They don’t have the necessary skills to adapt to changes. That is the USA government’s fault not Mexico’s.

  • avatar
    hreardon

    Ross Perot was right back in the early 90s: NAFTA was corporate America’s ploy for cheap labor and easy mobility of goods, plain and simple. Canada was just along for the ride.

    Amazing how a free trade agreement with our economic, political, environmental and cultural peers across the Atlantic was (and is) of far less interest than in our dealings with those who can supply cheap manufacturing.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Except, US corporations ending up going to China, not Mexico for manufacturing (as the cost of labor was a good bit cheaper than in China).

      NAFTA was initially a boon for the US agriculture industry and pretty much wiped out the small/village farmer in Mexico (which is why nearly entire villages of men and women would depart for the US for work, leaving behind children to be taken care of by the grandparents).

  • avatar
    Yurpean

    Mexico exports $265bn into the US, US exports $210bn into Mexico. More or less. The difference is the trade deficit.

    However, part of those Mexican exports into the US are actually tourism dollars spent by Americans in Mexico (Cancun, Baja, Acapulco, Tijuana). US Dollars for Mexican goods and services. Here is the catch: a lot of that actually goes to Mexican subsidiaries of US companies such as Hilton, Mariott, McDonalds, TGI Fridays, and other companies directly profiting from tourism. There a lot of smaller privately US owned companies, businesses, and investments over the the border.

    Import and export of goods is more or less balanced and the trade deficit fluctuates with the price of oil on one hand and corn and soy on the other. Go ahead and pull on a string but don’t be surprised when things start to unravel.

  • avatar
    Rday

    It is not just about trade. Every county needs to control its’ borders and know who is coming in. That is what most americans are concerned about besides the jobs that may be returning. Nothing against mexicans but this issue has many parts and trade is only one of them. trump promised to give the working class americans a new chance on life. Hope he does but we will have to see what happens. Hillary was a non starter. She was just another Obama clone just different nationality/race. She would have just kept doing the same old things he did. Trump is an unknown and a gamble. Clinton was known for what she would do and that was not what americans really wanted.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      RDay,
      This is not the biggest problem the US is confronting.

      The US has in place strict immigration standards. So what can Trump do any better?

      He and many (Trumpites) talk about the ‘bad guys’ whether Mexican or Muslim. A bigger challenge than this is to curb the massive number of gun deaths in the major cities. Chicago has a murder rate higher than the number of US servicemen and women killed every year. This is a far bigger problem than terrorism.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I read in Bloomberg today that countries that buy US dollars for trade and US government borrowings are dumping the USD at a high rate due to Trumps erratic and confusing position.

    What does this mean. Less dollars and higher interest rates on money. An increase in US export cost.

    The billions Trump will lose reducing taxes to business, pumping money into infrastructure, military, the wall, etc will cost more.

    He’s already back pedalled with the Chinese and Japanese and he will do the same with Mexico.

    • 0 avatar
      onyxtape

      Exactly. A few high-profile phone calls from the Titans of Industry and everything will go back to business as usual.

      He was going to negotiate us into a better position in regards to NAFTA and with China? Pfft.

      Remember this is a guy who LOST money selling steaks, football, and gambling to Americans in America. He’s the lousiest of businessmen.

  • avatar

    “Ask not what your country could do for you… But what you could do to personally please me”

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