President Donald Trump abruptly ended the decades-old US tilt toward free trade by signing an executive order to withdraw from an Asia-Pacific accord that was never ratified and promising to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta). “Great thing for the American worker, what we just did,” Trump said recently after signing an order withdrawing the US from the TransPacific Partnership (TPP) accord with 11 other nations.
Trump’s trade focus fulfills a campaign promise to rewrite America’s trade policy during his first days as president. In declaring his determination to renegotiate Nafta, Trump would rework an agreement that has governed commerce in much of the Western hemisphere for 22 years. By scrapping the TPP accord negotiated by former President Barack Obama, Trump will delight many of his most fervent supporters as well as a good many Democrats, while opening an economic vacuum in Asia that China is eager to fill.
“We’re going to start renegotiating on Nafta, on immigration, and on security at the border,” Trump said at the start of a swearing-in ceremony for top White House staff. “I think we’re going to have a very good result for Mexico, for the United States, for everybody involved. It’s really very important.” Officials in Canada, which is the biggest buyer of US exports, have indicated they want to avoid getting entangled with the Trump administration’s targeting of imports from Mexico and China.