President Donald Trump heralded a trade deal with Mexico as a new day for the North American Free Trade Agreement, but many of his top allies aren’t thrilled by the agreement.
The deal announced by Trump and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto on Monday proposes to revise rules dealing with the treatment of automobiles moving across the border, intellectual property, and labor.
Trump called the deal “incredible” and suggested that the US could pull out of NAFTA completely and simply move ahead with the Mexican bilateral agreement instead of involving Canada in the new deal.
“So it’s an incredible deal,” Trump said in the Oval Office. “It’s an incredible deal for both parties. Most importantly, it’s an incredible deal for the workers and for the citizens of both countries.”
(Read more: Here’s what’s in the US-Mexico trade deal »)
But for many of the president’s ideological allies — from conservative think tanks to Republican lawmakers to the influential editorial boards — the sentiment appears to be that the deal is better than breaking NAFTA completely, but it’s not a good deal.
Most of the critics pointed to the increased regulatory burden of the automobile rules and possible higher costs from the stronger labor protections, saying these provisions would increase government’s role in the economy and prevent companies from operating efficiently.
Here’s a rundown of some of the criticism:
- Republican Sen. Ben Sasse: “I am working through the details of the possible US-Mexico agreement, but there is reason to worry that this might be a step backward from NAFTA for American families especially on fundamental issues of presumed expiration of the deal, and empowering government bureaucrats rather than markets to determine the components in cars and other goods.”
- Business Roundtable, a lobbying group made of US CEOs: “Business Roundtable has concerns that today’s announcement might signal not an improvement, but rather a step backward by requiring a sunset provision, weakening investment protections and constraining access to dispute settlement procedures. Any final agreement with Mexico and Canada should expand trade, not restrict it.”
- Simon Lester and Inu Manak, trade scholars at the free market Cato Institute: “The NAFTA renegotiation has led to great market uncertainty, and it would be nice to get this all resolved. But before we applaud the completion of any deal, what matters most is in the details. From what we know at the moment, those details suggest that NAFTA may have been made worse, not better.”
- The right-leaning Wall Street Journal editorial board: “The deal announced Monday has moving parts and there is still time to make improvements before it is signed and sent to Congress. We’re glad to see Mr. Trump step back from the suicide of NAFTA withdrawal, but on the public evidence so far his new deal is worse.”
- The Bloomberg editorial board: “Rebranding NAFTA is better than pulling it apart — but if this modified accord with Mexico is the best Trump can do, it would have been less disruptive, and better for the US economy, to have left well enough alone.”