White House Drafting Plan to Withdraw From NAFTA

WASHINGTON (CN) –  The White House is reportedly drawing up an executive order that will formally withdraw the United States from the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The development, first reported by The New York Times, would fulfill one of President Donald Trump’s most touted campaign promises, and the decision to walk away from the deal sooner rather than later comes after several verbal salvos launched by the president in the direction of Canada over what he sees as trade inequities when it comes to milk, lumber and a host of other products.

Enacted in 1994, NAFTA eliminated trade tariffs between Mexico, Canada and the U.S. and encourages unfettered trade activity between the three nations.

During the 2016 presidential campaign Trump blasted the pact, saying it was the worst possible deal President Bill Clinton could have negotiated for the country.

“And you supported it,” Trump said to his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, during a series of presidential debates.

Trump said at the time that he would prefer to withdraw from it altogether, but also left open the possibility to renegotiate it to United States’ benefit.

On Wednesday, the National Corn Growers Association, an industry association comprised of more than 40,000 farmers in 49 states, said it opposes withdrawing from the agreement and urged Trump to reconsider.

Wesley Spurlock, the association’s president, said in a written statement that while “we are strong supporters of your administration and continue to stand ready to work with you or to build a better farm economy,” that begins with a “strong trade policy.”

Withdrawing from NAFTA would be disastrous for American agriculture. We cannot disrupt trade with two of our top trade partners and allies. This decision will cost America’s farmers and ranchers markets that we will never recover,” he said.

Corn exports account for a little over a third of a farmer’s income today, according to Spurlock.

“Mexico is the top export market for corn. Canada is also a top market for corn and ethanol. With a farm economy that is already weak, losing access to these markets will be a huge blow that will be felt throughout the ag [sic] value chain,” he wrote.

The White House did not immediately return a call for comment.

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