Former Bush speechwriter predicts NAFTA's survival

Source: Xinhua| 2017-11-03 10:20:10|Editor: ying
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VANCOUVER, Nov. 2 (Xinhua) -- The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is more secure than many experts believe despite continued threats from U.S. President Donald Trump to tear up the 23-year-old pact, says a high-profile former speechwriter for President George W. Bush.

Speaking at a commercial real estate conference here on Wednesday, Toronto-born David Frum said he does not expect the trade pact to be torn up by the president because too much money and too many interests on all sides are at stake.

"Theoretically the president of the United States has the power to cancel NAFTA on six-months' notice," Frum told the audience. "And while there is some argument about this, the better view is he doesn't need to consult Congress on this. He can just give the word, sign a piece of paper, and that's it. Six months later NAFTA ceases to function, and with it a trillion-dollar economy that spans from Alaska to Guatemala."

But there are many stakeholders who are desperate to protect that trillion-dollar economy, "including crucial people in the President's own party," said Frum, now a senior editor at the American magazine The Atlantic.

Frum, who worked as a speechwriter during the George W. Bush administration, said 400,000 jobs in Texas alone rely directly on NAFTA.

He said other states that Trump won in last year's election such as Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan would stand to lose a large number of jobs.

Other key states like Arkansas, the home of Walmart, would also stand to lose without NAFTA, which maintains and protects the continental supply chain, Frum said.

"I think NAFTA is much safer than conventional view has it," Frum said.

Frum said Canadian and Mexican trade delegates should be measured in their reactions to the U.S. demands, and should remain patient amid American rhetoric.

"Canada may not have a lot of friends in Washington, but it has friends at the state level who are very powerful," Frum said. "The Canadian mission is to develop coalitions with partners in the governors' mansions across the states, especially Republican governor mansions for a go-slow approach."

The United States, Mexico and Canada are set to hold a fifth round of NAFTA renegotiation talks in Mexico City on Nov. 17-21.

The U.S. government initially wanted to complete the talks by the end of the year but the negotiations are now scheduled to run until the end of March 2018.