Taking his cue from the shock decision of the United Kingdom to vote to leave the European Union, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump turned his wrath on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), saying that once in the White House he will rework the 22-year-old trilateral trade treaty to be more favorable toward the United States.
Speaking in Pennsylvania Tuesday, Trump promised to withdraw the United States from the accord if Mexico and Canada don’t agree to a renegotiation.
Not only was the real estate mogul attempting to put more distance between himself and Hilary Clinton, a consistent backer of trade treaties during her political career, but he was also tapping into an anti-globalist sentiment that proved to be a major reason why large swaths of working people in the U.K. voted to leave the EU.
In a speech that was stronger in specifics than most of his campaign speeches, Trump also vowed to introduce retaliatory tariffs on Chinese imports and nix the proposed 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a secretly negotiated treaty that has polarized public opinion, with Clinton now expressing doubts after initially supporting it.
Trump’s claim that rethinking the United States’ trade relationships with the rest of the world will “create millions of manufacturing jobs” is the message that most resonates with Bernie Sanders’ supporters, a bloc that Trump believes will switch to his side as the campaign rolls on.
Although Trump was more focused and reading from a teleprompter, his comments provoked little reaction from Republican leaders, most of whom support the U.S. trade treaties already in place, and have given their approval to the TTP.
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