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The Trump Administration Is in Danger of Making a 'Huge' Mistake in NAFTA Talks

Trucks and trade and Trump


December 04, 2017

Five of seven planned rounds of negotiations for the North American Free Trade Agreement recently concluded in Mexico City, yet we remain far from a deal. As an investment banker and trade negotiator who has seen many deals crater because one party overplayed its hand, risk of a failed negotiation is real.

The toughest issues in a complicated negotiation are often saved for last. Still unresolved are the so-called "poison pills" that the administration has positioned as take-it-or-leave-it items. Those include the proposed sunset clause, which dissolves the agreement after five years if the three countries do not agree to continue it, and unrealistic demands that 50 percent of car parts come from the U.S.

The Trump administration's tough posture and its apparent willingness to pull out of Nafta is the result of its notion that our relationship with many of our trading partners, and Mexico in particular, is a net loss for American businesses and workers and a zero-sum game for our economy. Clips of President Trump claiming that Mexico is "killing us on jobs and trade" play on a loop on cable news and social media daily.

But to use the current administration's vernacular, this is "fake news." The reality is that when it comes to renegotiating Nafta, the best way for the administration to deliver on its promise of putting America first, is to put North America first....

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Stefan M. Selig is a managing partner of BridgePark Advisors, a financial and strategic advisory firm. He served as U.S. undersecretary of commerce for international trade from 2014 to 2016.