Over the last week, U.S. President Donald Trump has issued two tweets threatening — for the umpteenth time — to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) because he insists it is one of the worst deals ever and poorly negotiated.
The tweets came on the eve of the second round of renegotiations slated to start this coming Friday at a downtown Mexico City hotel.
Gossip abounded on Tuesday in Mexico that leading NAFTA negotiator Foreign Relations Secretary Luis Videgaray made a surprise trip to Washington to meet with State Department Secretary Rex Tillerson as well as with the President’s Chief of Staff John Kelly (and perhaps with Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross) and Trump’s appointed NAFTA negotiator Robert Lighthizer. The question being asked is if Videgaray went to Washington in panic and if so, why the rush?
But will Trump really pull the United States out of “the worst deal ever” or will he just sit back and not keep one of his electoral promises to his voters?
Definitely The Donald’s latest tweets have not been welcome by many business organizations, particularly by his own appointee United States Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Purdue.
Since April, Secretary Purdue has been listening to the many agribusiness communities in the country and they all are against removing the country from NAFTA simply because a great deal of them — enough to make their voices heard even by deaf and dumb Trump — now depend greatly on the sales of a variety of products sold both to Mexico and Canada. Ironically, those scared farmers are located precisely in the states in which Trump won by majority.
In fact, after the latest Trump tweets, reports are that the president of the U.S. Grains Council Tom Sleight also tweeted to Secretary Purdue the view of his represented people; “We are in shock and awe” if Trump pulls them out of NAFTA.
A report from The Washington Post said on April 26, “as news of the president’s plan reached Ottawa and Mexico City in the middle of the week and rattled the markets and Congress, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and others huddled in meetings with Trump, urging him not to sign a document triggering a U.S. withdrawal from NAFTA.”
“Perdue even brought along a prop to the Oval Office: A map of the United States that illustrated the areas that would be hardest hit, particularly from agriculture and manufacturing losses and highlighting that many of those states and counties were ‘Trump country’ communities.”
Trump’s most recent tweets were met with scorn by the Mexican press; “Trump’s bark is worse than his bite” reads a column by El Financiero-Bloomberg financial daily.
On other fronts it remains to be seen how much Donald Trump pays heed to polls. The latest Gallup poll carried out last week on the president’s approval rating says that 60 percent of those polled disapprove of his nearly eight months in office while only 35 percent approve.
The one fact is that the agricultural sector continues to be much against Trump carrying out his threat, but even some legal analysts claim that he may attempt pulling out of NAFTA, but that in the end he will fail because that is an agreement signed and approved by both houses of Congress and in the end they may veto Trump’s whimsical desires.
In the meantime here in Mexico City, arrangements are being made to welcome the Canada and U.S. negotiating teams in hopes, of course, that The Donald will not pull the carpet from under their feet.