Donald Trump on Tuesday said that if he is elected, one of the first actions he will take will be to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
During a speech in Pennsylvania, Trump laid out a broad vision for a more aggressive enforcement of US trade policies under his theoretical administration, contrasting them with those of presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
The presumptive Republican presidential nominee said one of his top priorities would be the renegotiation of NAFTA, which eliminated a number of tariffs and state and local barriers on trade when it went into effect in the mid-1990s.
“I’m going tell our NAFTA partners that I intend to immediately renegotiate the terms of that agreement to get a better deal for our workers. And I don’t mean just a little bit better, I mean a lot better,” Trump said, according to prepared remarks distributed by his campaign.
“If they do not agree to a renegotiation, then I will submit notice under Article 2205 of the NAFTA agreement that America intends to withdraw from the deal,” he added.
In his speech on Tuesday, Trump repeatedly slammed Clinton for her proximity to business leaders who support free-trade agreements, highlighting her previous support for NAFTA and invoking Sen. Bernie Sanders’ criticisms of Clinton’s trade stances.
“Hillary Clinton, and her campaign of fear, will try to spread the lie that these actions will start a trade war. She has it completely backwards. Hillary Clinton unleashed a trade war against the American worker when she supported one terrible trade deal after another — from NAFTA to China to South Korea,” Trump said.
He added: “As Bernie Sanders said, Hillary Clinton ‘voted for virtually every trade agreement that has cost the workers of this country millions of jobs.’ Trade reform, and the negotiation of great trade deals, is the quickest way to bring our jobs back.”
For her part, Clinton’s position on NAFTA and free trade has shifted over the past several decades.
Though she supported the deal during her husband’s presidency, she said in 2008 that she was in favour of “fixing” parts of the trade agreement. Last year, Clinton also rescinded her support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a multinational trade agreement that would roll back some tariffs in exchange for currency protections and some labour and environmental-standards mandates.
The Clinton campaign has attempted to undermine Trump’s protectionist policies by highlighting his reliance on international trade in his private business deals.
In a conference call hosted by the campaign in advance of Trump’s speech, Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown slammed the real-estate magnate for outsourcing the production of some of his branded products overseas.
“We know just in my state alone where Donald Trump could have gone to make these things,” Brown said. “He could have fought to make these products here, but he didn’t.”