NAFTA is Dead: Trump Seeks Separate Agreements With Mexico and Canada

Trump proposes NAFTA by another name. But it won't look like NAFTA. He wants tailored bilateral trade agreements.

President Trump says Mexico and Canada are ‘very different countries’. That is true of any two countries, even countries in the EU. And on that note Trump Raises Prospect of Separate Trade Deals With Canada, Mexico.

“I wouldn’t mind seeing Nafta where you’d go by a different name... a separate deal with Canada... a separate deal with Mexico,” Mr. Trump told reporters.

“These are two very different countries,” Mr. Trump said, adding that in his opinion the U.S. loses “a lot of money with Canada” because of the existing framework, and loses “a fortune with Mexico.”

NAFTA is Dead

The Globe and Mail proclaims NAFTA is Dead and Canada Should Move On

NAFTA – at least as we know it – is dead. Donald Trump just killed it.

The reckless and crippling 25-per-cent tariff on steel and 10-per-cent tariff on aluminum that the U.S. President’s administration just used to bludgeon Canada and Mexico (not to mention the entire European Union) is the murder weapon.

When someone keeps threatening to smash you, as Donald Trump has since he announced his candidacy for president, it usually pays to take them seriously. Today, even the most committed somnambulist can’t ignore what the U.S. administration has done.

How can we for a moment believe that a renegotiated NAFTA can protect us from further unwarranted and equally ferocious economic attacks from our putative partner? The risible pretext that U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross trotted out for the tariffs was “national security,” because, as he put it, “without a strong economy, you can’t have strong national security.” We can expect this elastic interpretation to be the standard approach of the Trump administration to any disputes under a renegotiated NAFTA.

The only negotiating stance that works against Donald Trump is the ability and willingness to walk away.

Disputing NAFTA

Every time I mention trade, at least one misinformed reader blames NAFTA for the loss of manufacturing jobs. It happened again yesterday. And it's nonsense.

NAFTA Not Responsible For Loss on Manufacturing Jobs

Manufacturing jobs peaked in June of 1979, nearly 15 years before NAFTA. Also note that manufacturing jobs rose for the first eight years after NAFTA started.

How many times do I have to post that chart before people look at it?

Manufacturing Share of Employment

As a percentage of employment, manufacturing's decline started in 1960 for Both the US and Canada.

Balance of Trade

Trump moans the "US loses a fortune" with Mexico. The above chart shows Trump is wrong.

Moreover, a cheap supply of parts helps keep auto prices down. Consumers spend the savings elsewhere. Jobs are created, not lost, in the process.

Dear NAFTA Bashers: You Need New Charts

For a collection of still more charts on the absurdity of NAFTA bitching, please see Dear NAFTA Bashers: You Need New Charts.

True Source of Trade Imbalance

To understand the origin of trade imbalance, please see Disputing Trump’s NAFTA “Catastrophe” with Pictures: What’s the True Source of Trade Imbalances?

Trump is clueless about trade and barking up the wrong tree.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

No. 1-20

Air quality regulations? Have you tried to spend two weeks in Beijing? It their level of air quality the price you would pay for manufacturing jobs? We decided as a country a long time ago that was too high a price to pay.


There is more to this issue and "America First"-ism than economics. Trade agreements and global agendas such as climate change and immigration and central bank coordination, and WB/IMF are about globalism as much as about addressing any particular issue. Treaties are a means to over-ride and circumvent national sovereignty and the rights of citizens and (for example) the constitution. Can't get enough. Trump is blowing-up the plan - is he really that smart?


The fact that China has not been fair in trading with America is a major reason to strengthen ties with those closer to home. A very strong strategic dimension exists for NAFTA and when President Reagan fathered and endorsed the concept decades ago he recognized the need to create a powerful regional trade bloc to compete in a changing global economy. More of why working with Canada and Mexico is smarter than letting China eat our lunch.


You've inadvertently touched on one of our main societal problems. We have a massive parasite class (bankers, MIC, and politicians) that face no competition and are free to mark up their wares as desired. Meanwhile everyone else is subject to relentless competition from here and abroad.

These tariffs to nothing to deter our parasite class and the benefit to average Americans is debatable at best. However, if Boeing can sell $7 cargo-rolling loaders to the army for about $1700 each and Wall St can manufacture crises to their hearts' content, the winners at the top will remain unchanged no matter how much noise Orange Julius makes.


Air quality regulations in California has chased away thousands of companies because of the pollution tax implemented 30 years ago. That along with county regulations....NAFTA seems to have little to do with it. Come on Mish you know Mexico's regulations are next to nothing. They are part of the equation .