Op-eds

Trump Can't Withdraw from NAFTA Without a 'Yes' from Congress; Op-Ed by Prof. Trachtman in The Hill

The Hill

Joel Trachtman

The renegotiation of the 1993 North American Free Trade Agreementbegins this week. President Trump has threatened that if he does not achieve his goals, he will terminate U.S. participation in NAFTA. But he does not understand, or admit, that he cannot do it on his own. Many in Congress fear that termination would cause economic upheaval, loss of jobs, and losses to firms, not to mention higher prices for U.S. consumers.

NAFTA is a reciprocal agreement by which Mexico and Canada reduce barriers to our exports in exchange for the U.S. reducing barriers to their exports. This means that U.S. industries that export goods and services to Mexico or Canada — and the workers in those industries — would be hurt by any termination of NAFTA.

Many members of Congress work under the fundamental misunderstanding that the president has the power, on his own, to terminate NAFTA. They are unaware that under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, while the president is the negotiator and signer of trade agreements, he is not the “decider.” Power to approve, and to terminate U.S. participation in, trade agreements is assigned to Congress.

Read the full Op-Ed