Jitters mount from trade talks on two fronts

by Josh Sosland
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Josh Sosland
Agricultural interests remained uneasy with the Trump administration trade agenda as trilateral renegotiations over the North American Free Trade Agreement began in August. Those jitters have been heightened more recently by incendiary remarks from the White House suggesting the United States may withdraw from the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement. Mexico, Canada and South Korea all are major importers of U.S. agricultural products.

The U.S. business community was said to be exploring options, through legislation or litigation, to stymie the administration should it decide to seek to exit NAFTA. By most accounts, scant progress was made during talks between the countries Sept. 1 and 5, conducted in Mexico City. Pivotal third round talks will be held later this month in Ottawa. To threats that the Trump administration may leave KORUS, Thomas J. Donohue, head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said, “It’s difficult to imagine a move that would bring more self-harm to our economy and national security, with no benefit in return, than withdrawing from KORUS.”

Similarly stinging was criticism in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece by Robert B. Zoellick, the U.S. Trade representative in the George W. Bush administration. Calling Mr. Trump’s impulses “strategically incoherent,” Mr. Zoellick warns the reputation of the United States as a reliable trade partner already has taken a hit in recent months, a situation that could worsen considerably.
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