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NAFTA on Ropes Again After Trump Tweets

President continues to threaten end of trade deal in tweets.

by on Apr.03, 2018

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, left, talks with Canada's Chrystia Freelander and Mexico's Ildefonso Guajardo, both right.

Even more than some relief on fuel-economy standards, carmakers have said over and over again they want to settle the issues around the North American Free Trade Agreement.

However, President Donald Trump threatened to discard the agreement in a series of Easter weekend tweets in which he accused Mexico of doing “very little” to stop the flow of people across the U.S. border. He also renewed his attack on U.S. immigration policies, including DACA, the program that would allow immigrants brought to the U.S. as children an opportunity to become U.S. citizens.

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Trump once again demanded the Mexico pay for the border wall that Republican led Congress declined of fund in full and threatened to target the North American Free Trade Agreement in retaliation for Mexico’s failure to stop migrants from Central America to the Southern of the United States.

The tweets came as negotiators from the U.S., Canada and Mexico seemed to be making progress on NAFTA and Trump himself had excluded Mexico and Canada – at least temporarily – from paying steep new tariffs on steel they export to the U.S. The U.S. concession on tariffs was thought to have brought a final agreement closer despite key differences on the rules of origin that are vital to the auto industry.

(EPA rolling back CAFE setting up showdown with California. Click Here for the story.)

Global car makers build more than 3 million cars in Mexico and many are exported to the U.S. Without a resolution of the unfolding dispute over NAFTA, Mexican-made vehicles could face steep tariffs at the U.S. border. Trump maintains exports from Mexico limit opportunities for American workers.

U.S. auto executives, including GM CEO Barra and FCA CEO Marchionne, have expressed their desire to keep NAFTA in place.

The tweets also came just as the election contest that will decide the next president of Mexico is heating up. NAFTA and relations with the U.S. generally and Trump specifically are expected to emerge as critical issues.

Trump’s Easter Sunday comments on Twitter came in apparent response to the movement of hundreds of Central Americans across Mexico in a “migrant viacrucis” (“way of the cross”) caravan headed for the U.S. border.

(Click Here for more about the pending clash between Washington D.C. and California.)

“Mexico is doing very little, if not nothing, at stopping people from flowing into Mexico through their Southern Border, and then into the U.S. They laugh at our dumb immigration laws.

“They must stop the big drug and people flows, or I will stop their cash cow, NAFTA. NEED WALL!”

A group called Pueblo Sin Frontera, or People Without Borders, organized the mass movement through Mexico as a way of helping Central American migrants avoid criminal gangs and harassment by authorities as they trek to the U.S. border.

(Study finds strong support for keeping tougher fuel economy rules. Click Here for the story.)

About 1,500 migrants from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, including entire families, set off on March 25, from the southern Mexican state of Chiapas.

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