As efforts to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement kick off this week, Donald Trump will have an opportunity to take action he’s been promising since he started his campaign for President.
President Trump’s suggestion at a rally Tuesday that he may “terminate” the North American Free Trade Agreement may not really meanÂ the United States would pull out the treaty any time soon, a top House Republican said WednesdayÂ to reassure the alarmed chief executive of ATT.
Speaking to supporters in an Arizona arena, Trump apologized that renegotiating NAFTA was taking so long, then indicated he might just pull the United States out of the treaty with Canada and Mexico.
“Personally, I don’t think we can make a deal, because we have been so badly taken advantage of,” Trump said.Â
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“So I think we’ll end up probably terminating NAFTA at some point, OK? Probably,” Trump said.Â “I told you from the first day, we will renegotiate NAFTA, or we will terminate NAFTA. I personally don’t think you can make a deal without a termination, but we’re going to see what happens, OK?”
That suggestion worried Randall Stephenson, chief executive officer of ATT, who questioned House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, about what Trump meant during a webcast “town hall” WednesdayÂ from the company’s Dallas headquarters.
“ATT has made a rather large commitment to Mexico, in fact it’s a $7 billion commitment,Â and we have a lot of capital at risk,” Stephenson said. “We hear words about NAFTA maybe coming down, it causes alarm. How should I think about that?”
Brady, whose committee oversees trade deals, saidÂ ATT was an example of how American companies and workers can win when free trade breaks down protective barriers in other countries for industries such as telecommunications.
BradyÂ said NAFTA does need to be modernized, but he assured Stephenson it is possible to reach a revised agreement, despite Trump’s speech.
“Look, the president’s rhetoric is red hot, and it creates real impacts,” Brady said. “The actions by his trade team are measured. They are following the trade objectives Congress gave them.”
Brady suggested that Trump’s reference to terminating NAFTAÂ may have been referring toÂ how the United States would act five years or more after a renegotiated agreement is reached.
One possibility, Brady said, is thatÂ “after the negotiations, and they’ve modernized it, do you have something like a five-year sort of reset, or sunset or trigger, where you look to see if the countries are doing what they said they would do, before it’s sort of made permanent.
“I actually think (Trump)Â may have been referencing that discussion for future accountability, than withdrawing right now. That’s what I’m guessing,” Brady said.
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