WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- Pulling out of a key trade deal may still be on the table, that’s according to members of President Donald Trump’s cabinet.
The North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, is a long-standing partnership between the United State, Canada, and Mexico.
The auto industry is asking President Trump to pump the brakes on withdrawal talk.
The American International Automobile Dealers Association says it represents all American dealerships that sell or service international auto brands. Cody Lusk is the AIADA’s president and CEO. Lusk said, "South Carolina is one of the biggest auto producing states in the country.”
Car companies that build in the U.S. credit NAFTA with leading to industry success, but they’re warning achievements could stall if there are significant changes to the deal.
During Tuesday’s State of the Union address, Trump did not specifically mention NAFTA, but did say, “We will work to fix bad trade deals and renegotiate new ones."
Trump has previously discussed the idea of pulling the U.S. out of NAFTA.
U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, Steve Mnuchin, said, "It’s [NAFTA] an old agreement, and he [President Trump] just wants to make changes to it so that it’s better for American workers. It’s something we’ve been working on. If we don’t get that deal, the president has talked about pulling out, but his objective is to renegotiate the deal."
The auto industry is uniting behind a message that America is winning with NAFTA, saying it has created more American auto jobs, and has driven increased production over the last two decades.
The Association of Global Automakers is a trade group which represents the U.S. divisions of 12 international automakers. The group’s president and CEO, John Bozzella, said, “If the United States withdraws from NAFTA, car prices will go up, and American auto workers will lose. That’s what at stake here.”
Industry leaders say that would put the American auto industry at a competitive disadvantage and hurt South Carolina.
Lusk said, “You've got I think almost 150,000 auto related jobs there…. It has been a great success story… we want to see that continue, and we want to see South Carolina continue to succeed."
Just this week, 35 Republican senators sent this letter to President Trump, citing NAFTA’s benefits and are urging the president to focus on modernizing the deal while opening up more trade.
The U.S., Mexico, and Canada will continue negotiations later this month.