Two Trump Administration officials told Politico Wednesday that the White House is mulling a draft executive order that would see the U.S. excuse itself from the free trade deal with Canada and Mexico that President Trump said he’d renegotiate if he couldn’t improve it.
As recently as last week when visiting Wisconsin to sign an executive order that would restrict the extension of skilled labor visas to foreign workers, Trump said, “NAFTA has been very, very bad for our country. It’s been very, very bad for our companies and for our workers, and we’re going to make some very big changes or we are going to get rid of NAFTA once and for all. Cannot continue like this, believe me.”
According to the officials, a draft order has been submitted for review and could be unveiled later this week or early next, Politico reported.
Both Canada and Mexico had agreed to come to the table to renegotiate the terms of the nearly 25-year-old trade deal, and talks were expected to get underway in August. This new move, however, could serve to quicken the timeline of those likely to be less friendly talks, as it will start the clock ticking on the withdrawal process. It’s also likely to put the two countries on edge—which, it seems, may be what the administration is after.
Some say withdrawing the U.S. from NAFTA could be one of Trump’s tough negotiation tactics designed to put Canada and Mexico up against a wall to get better terms for the U.S.
If the order, which is currently in final review stages, goes forward, it could bring America’s key trading partners to the table for talks very quickly. And with the withdrawal timeline started, the potential for the U.S. to pull out of the deal shifts from rhetoric to realistic.