Unloading his frustrations at the pace of the NAFTA renegotiation talks with Canada and Mexico, Trump tweeted a week and a half ago that “We are in the NAFTA (worst trade deal ever made) renegotiation process with Mexico & Canada. Both being very difficult, may have to terminate?”, thereby implying that he was considering the US’ withdrawal from one of the largest free trade agreements in history. Trump embraced a populist approach on the campaign trail towards NAFTA and this surely isn’t the first time that he’s threatened to pull out of it, but after having already left the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on the first day of his Presidency, there’s a certain edge of credibility to what he’s saying. That being said, it’s far from certain that he’ll actually do this, let alone anytime soon, and his words could have just been a tactic to put pressure on his counterparts.
Furthermore, there are a couple arguments as to why Trump isn’t serious in carrying through with this threat.
The first one is that most of the US’ trade is conducted with Canada and Mexico, so abruptly pulling out of NAFTA or initiating a phased withdrawal from it similar to the UK’s Brexit process with the EU could lead to many unintended economic consequences for Americans, whether producers, consumers, or workers. Even though the country could obviously weather any of these consequences, it also needs to be factored in that some segments of American big business would be inordinately affected, and that their globalist lobbyists in the Trump Administration will do whatever they can to prevent their interests from being damaged. This is even more powerful of a force to keep in mind nowadays following the Kelly-McMaster-Pence “deep state” coup in successfully ousting nationalist figures such as Steve Bannon, Sebastian Gorka, and others from the White House.
On the other hand, there are a few reasons why Trump might actually do what he’s implying.
There’s a chance that he’s dead-set on executing one of his main campaign promises, and that he’ll terminate NAFTA if he doesn’t get a better renegotiated deal like he wanted. Relatedly, this would have grand strategic ramifications by fundamentally shaking up the global economy and radically rewiring it. The resultant aftershocks would affect the whole world and could even be paired with tougher economic measures against China, which Trump is also supposedly considering right now. The intent behind this move could then be reinterpreted as a dramatic power play for reshaping International Relations and triggering a domino effect of “economic nationalism” all across the world, which could give the US the edge by being ahead of the pack in this regard while setting into motion large-scale system-changing processes designed to counteract China’s New Silk Road globalization model.
Andrew Korybko is an American Moscow-based political analyst specializing in the relationship between the US strategy in Afro-Eurasia, China’s One Belt One global vision of New Silk Road connectivity, and Hybrid Warfare.
Featured image is from the author.
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