When the day began yesterday, Donald Trump was bragging on Twitter that he reversed course and decided to keep NAFTA after the President of Mexico and the Prime Minister of Canada called and offered to renegotiate the longstanding North American Free Trade Agreement. But according to a subsequent report from the Wall Street Journal last night, Trump instead changed his mind after two of his cabinet members showed him a map of the USA.
Here’s what Trump claimed across two tweets early on Thursday morning: “I received calls from the President of Mexico and the Prime Minister of Canada asking to renegotiate NAFTA rather than terminate. I agreed subject to the fact that if we do not reach a fair deal for all, we will then terminate NAFTA. Relationships are good-deal very possible!” (link). The WSJ has since reported that those two phone calls did take place, but it makes no mention of either foreign leader offering to make any concessions.
Instead, the Wall Street Journal says that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and newly appointed Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue talked Donald Trump into keeping NAFTA by showing him a map of the USA which revealed just how many Americans would lose their current jobs if NAFTA were scrapped (link) – including how some of the red states that voted for Trump would be hit the hardest. This reveals two stunning things about Trump and NAFTA.
One is that, obviously, Donald Trump never had even a basic understanding what NAFTA was when he was vowing to get rid of it during the election (and neither did those who voted for him). The other is that Trump apparently didn’t bother to ask his cabinet appointees like Ross or Perdue what their positions were on NAFTA before he appointed them, as he unwittingly put pro-NAFTA people in his cabinet positions that were the most relevant to trade, at a time when he was still anti-NAFTA. In any case, yet another Trump campaign promise is now off the table. Contribute to Palmer Report
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report