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Monday, March 25, 2019

Reprinted with permission from Creators.


America’s closest neighbors, Mexico and Canada, rank high on Donald Trump’s to-do list of allies to offend. The North American Free Trade Agreement, the president insists, is “the worst deal ever.” Actually, it’s been a mostly good deal for all three partners. But even if the U.S. stays in it, Trump’s crazy-man act has already done the dirty deed, damaging America’s ability to compete globally.

True to style, Trump started talks by bellowing invective against the negotiating partners. He repeatedly demanded an insulting wall with Mexico and turned the usual trade skirmishes with Canada into World War II-and-a-half.

Such intemperance has economic consequences. Canada and Mexico certainly want NAFTA to continue, but they are now taking steps to reduce their reliance on trade with the United States. Both have already signed new trade agreements with Europe featuring zero tariffs.

As Mexican foreign minister Luis Videgaray recently said, the demise of NAFTA wouldn’t “be the end of the world.”

If tariffs returned to North America, Mexican factories would have incentives to replace American-made parts with parts made in Europe — or in Mexico itself. Some economists predict that the big automakers would just shift production altogether to Europe or Asia.

Leaving NAFTA, the American Automotive Policy Council concludes, would amount to a “$10 billion tax” on U.S. manufacturers. U.S. makers of auto parts say it would force them alone to cut up to 50,000 American jobs.

Americans continue to hold talks on NAFTA, but Trump’s radical demands for staying in have raised the chances of a final meltdown. Canada and Mexico have already rejected as deal killers such requirements as subjecting NAFTA to periodic renewal. That would leave businesses perpetually racked by uncertainty. They’d be unable to make plans knowing that at any moment, U.S. leadership might sow new chaos.

ImpactECON, a trade consultant in Colorado, predicts that the end of NAFTA would lead to a net loss of more than a quarter-million American jobs over three to five years. Mexico and Canada would fare even worse. Who wins? Not North America.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responds to Trump’s outbursts with a kind of mocking friendliness. But Mexico’s fraught history with the superpower neighbor has resulted in more definitive calls to strike back. Some Mexican lawmakers have been urging a boycott of U.S. agricultural products. That would be no idle threat. Mexico accounts for a quarter of U.S. corn exports.

Furthermore, Mexico wouldn’t even have to look outside Latin America for agricultural replacements. Argentina is both eager and able to fulfill the demand for tortilla ingredients.

The farm belt may have had reasons to support Trump, but economic self-interest was evidently not among them. U.S. agriculture now enjoys a $20 billion surplus in global trade. Top exports include cotton, corn, soybeans and sugar beets.

American ranchers were hoping to enjoy expanded Asian markets under the Trans-Pacific Partnership. So much for that. Trump pulled the U.S. out. In July, Japan slapped emergency tariffs of 50 percent on imports of mostly U.S. frozen beef. Australia stayed in TPP, and its frozen beef now enters Japan with a far lower tariff.

If the president understands the ramifications of ditching free trade agreements and is just playing jester to his base, well, at least that makes some sense. It certainly does for Russians wishing us ill. But if he thinks there’s no downside to keeping American business — and our allies — in a perpetual state of confusion, then heaven help us.

NAFTA renegotiations were supposed to be sewn up by Oct. 17, but they didn’t come close. The pathetic show goes on, and the world takes the U.S. less seriously by the day.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at



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17 responses to “Why Trump’s Ruinous Trade Policy Will Destroy U.S. Jobs”

  1. Dominick Vila says:

    In addition to potential impact on our economy, and credibility as a nation whose word can be trusted, the most troubling part of this issue for me is the likelihood that our traditional trading partners may have no choice but to turn to countries like China, Japan, and the EU to do business with fairly and reliably. If that occurs, Trump is likely to retaliate using the usual incendiary rhetoric, including threats, when he realizes that we are not the only game in town, and that what he is doing is benefiting our competitors and damaging the USA, perhaps irreparably. Will he threaten those who sign trade deals with China with invasions or annihilation, instead of succumbing to his childish vendettas and myopic foreign policy and economic goals? Hopefully those around him will impress on him that he is no longer a real estate entrepreneur, and that the rest of the world does not have to heed to his wishes.

    • Independent1 says:

      Yes, hopefully he won’t revert to his draconian tactics of his bankruptcy years in the 1990s:

      Branson: I met Trump once, and all he talked about was destroying people who wouldn’t help his bankrupt firm

      “I thought we would have an interesting conversation about a whole range of issues, and he just spent the whole lunch talking about five people he rung up to try to get help from … and how these people had refused to help him and how his life’s mission was going to be to destroy these people,” Branson asserted.

  2. FireBaron says:

    Next up, Teflon Donnie decided to reopen WWII, knowing he knows far more than the Generals and Admirals who won that war. He promises to have Germany, Italy and Japan on their knees within 7 months. Vows he does not need any help from England, France, Canada, Russia, Ireland, Argentina, Mexico, China, Australia, New Zealand, Greece, Turkey, etc. Says it will be “BE-YOO-TEE-FUL” and bigger and better than any war ever fought before.

  3. bobnstuff says:

    Trump & Company is clueless about how the economy works or international trade. He calmed to this super negotiator who would get all those great deals. I have never heard that calling people names was a useful negotiating tool. The worst part is his minions have no problem with his actions. Even the slowest of his followers should know that you don’t call the person names that you are trying to sell a used car to. The damage Trump mouth is doing to our country my never be fixed and he has only just begun. We have three more years of this to go through, that’s if he doesn’t blow up the planet first.

  4. latebloomingrandma says:

    It’s hard to believe that this oaf graduated from Wharton School of Business. I’m sure daddy bought his way in. For all the hoopla by the right to see the black president’s college transcripts, Trumps’ are surely the ones that would be interesting.

  5. Dapper Dan says:

    It goes without saying he’s going to kill the golden goose that has helped lift the US economy and Stock Markets to record highs. Just wait and his biggest blunder yet will be not reappointing Janet Yellen. Why ? Because she was appointed by Barack Obama so therefore she must go

  6. FF says:

    Just returned from a trip to Nepal (BTW, Mt. Everest is absolutely beautiful. Took a plane ride that flew parallel to the Himalayas. Wow.). Anywho, on our ride from the airport to the hotel, our guide asked what we thought of Trump. When we told him we were not big fans, he smiled and said he does a lot of tours with U.S. citizens and they all say pretty much the same thing. Biggest negative:. America’s shrinking credibility in the world.

    • latebloomingrandma says:

      My son and his wife just came back from a trip to Hungary and Germany. When people realized that they were Americans, they wanted to discuss our president and were snickering. They said we’d rather not discuss him, amid some laughter. So yes, we’re a laughing stock and losing credibility.

      • FF says:

        That’s happened to us quite a few times on our trips abroad. An Australian man actually asked “what were you guys thinking???”.

    • I’ve heard similar responses in trips as a tourist to Oman and Ireland. There is still a lot of hope in many places that America will become more responsible in who we elect to office. But how long will these sentiments of hope abroad last?

  7. Someone has put a poisonous thought in Trump’s head that being an isolationist in today’s world will pass muster. And I don’t think Trump has the intellect or patience to think on a high level about ideologies. To have formulated a naive notion that America can exist without interacting with the rest of the world may be a combination of GOP messaging, FOX crap, KKK influence from his dad, and other nonsense from the likes of Bannon, which have muddied Donald’s thoughts and views.

  8. So, with a benighted mind like Bannon’s pushing a heroin of an idea called economic nationalism, and with simpletons like Donald buying into this ancient concept of how not to interact with other nations, maybe it’s best to let the yahoos of America retreat into isolationism.
    Let the rest of the world seek out more responsible and mature nations to interact with, leave America to be like some self-centered child, and then we’ll see Trump supporters start singing a new tune.
    Nothing works better for Trump supporters and isolationists than to give them a bitter pill to swallow and to force them to feel and understand what real hardship is like.

  9. dpaano says:

    What would you expect from a man who knows nothing about how this country operates and doesn’t realize you can’t run it like a real estate business! He’s so uninformed about trade agreements and what they mean to our economy…same with immigration and refugees coming to this country. So far, he’s decimated the construction work force when we need it the most due to losses from hurricanes and fires…what new chaos does he have planned?

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