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A worker loads rolls of sheet metal at LMS International, a distribution company in Laredo, Texas, Nov. 21, 2016 (AP photo by Eric Gay).

Trump May Threaten a Trade War Over NAFTA, but His Options Are Limited

Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017

When then-President Bill Clinton signed the North American Free Trade Agreement in a White House ceremony in December 1993, he called it “a defining moment” for the United States and praised Mexico and Canada as “our partners in the future that we are trying to make together.” All three countries had made what then seemed like an irreversible decision to marry their economic futures. Yet today, less than a quarter-century later, those bonds are badly fraying.

The new U.S. president, Donald Trump, wants to renegotiate NAFTA, which he has called “the worst trade deal in history.” Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto has seen his approval rating fall to a paltry 12 percent as Trump has pressured American companies to stop investing in Mexico. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who visited the White House this week, is trying to sidestep Mexico and curry favor with Trump by talking up the balanced trading relationship between his country and the United States. The “three amigos” of North America have each retreated to their own corners, eyeing each other suspiciously. ...

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