Modernizing a longstanding trade deal with Canada and Mexico will help achieve the energy dominance the Trump administration is pushing for, three policy analysts said at The Heritage Foundation.
The North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, ratified by the Senate in 1994, was designed to limit the tariffs and boundaries of trade among Canada, Mexico, and the United States.
Bryan Riley, a former Heritage trade expert who is director of the National Taxpayers Union’s free trade initiative, said that “in retrospect, NAFTA has been a huge success” in spurring trade and economic growth in the three countries.
But beginning in May, and following through on one of President Donald Trump’s campaign themes, the administration set out to modernize the trade agreement and revise the deal to put “America first.”
NAFTA as it currently stands was a major reason for the decline in America’s manufacturing jobs, Trump has said.
Heritage, a leading conservative think tank, hosted the Jan. 16 event to highlight advantages of increasing energy trade with Canada and Mexico.
Building on the success it has brought to all three nations, Riley and the two other analysts said, modernizing NAFTA would benefit the Trump administration’s end goal of energy dominance and job creation.
Aaron Padilla, a senior adviser at the American Petroleum Institute, a leading trade association for oil and gas, said that “countries where people are free to trade, import, [and] export are much more prosperous than those where governments pick winners and losers.”
Thanks to free trade, Padilla said, Americans benefit, especially because it results in new jobs. As an example, he cited an Exxon plant in the Midwest that has created a plethora of jobs because it now specializes in importing oil from Canada.
Also speaking was Daniel Fine, associate director of the New Mexico Center for Energy Policy.
The Heritage event highlighted key policies for the Trump administration to focus on in the sixth round of NAFTA negotiations, which run until Jan. 29 in Montreal.