breaking news

Federal judge strikes down Texas abortion law

Commentary: Texans should be concerned if Trump withdraws from NAFTA


President Donald Trump may exercise the power to unilaterally withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement but will likely require congressional approval to completely renegotiate NAFTA.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada expressed willingness to renegotiate NAFTA, as has the Mexico secretary of foreign relations, Luis Videgaray, who also stated that Mexico would like to renegotiate NAFTA “as soon as possible” to “dispel this uncertainty.”

If Trump withdraws from NAFTA, it is unclear how quickly a similar agreement could be put in place considering the bureaucracy of three different governments, assuming that an agreement is even reached. NAFTA as it currently stands took from the beginning of negotiations in 1990 until Jan. 1, 1994, to go into effect.

Texans should be concerned, because the complete withdrawal from NAFTA and a return of trade barriers with our leading trade partners, Canada and Mexico, will disproportionately and adversely impact the economy of Texas. Close to half, $118 billion, of all Texas exports are to Mexico and Canada, and Texas exports support over 1 million Texas jobs. The top Texas goods exports include $45.3 billion in computer and electronic products, $42.7 billion in petroleum and coal products, $39.8 billion in chemicals, $24.8 billion in machinery, and $22.2 billion in transportation equipment.

According to recent data collected by the office of the governor of Texas, the oil and gas industry accounts for 11.3 percent of Texas gross domestic product. The Texas Railroad Commission estimates that natural gas exports from Texas to Mexico are expected to increase from an average of 2.1 billion cubic feet per day to 3.4 billion cubic feet per day by 2020. Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Trump’s pick for secretary of energy, sits on the board of Energy Transfer Partners, which has approval from the Obama administration to build two pipelines to transport natural gas from Texas to Mexico.

Although the current Gov. Greg Abbott has declined to comment on NAFTA, Perry called NAFTA “the largest job stimulus packet to come along this decade” in 1993. Then, in 2002, Perry stated that he would be urging “our friends in Washington” not to enact regulations that would hinder free trade. Former Texas Gov. and U.S. President George W. Bush expressed his support for NAFTA in November, stating that any president should “recognize that trade encourages growth and fair trade is important for the workers of our respective countries.”

NAFTA created the work authorized TN visa category to facilitate the travel of Canadian, U.S. and Mexican professional workers between the member parties to the agreement. These professions include accountants, engineers, consultants, university professors, scientific technicians and another 50 specifically negotiated degreed professions. For Mexican nationals seeking to enter the United States as treaty traders or treaty investors, the E visa category is also based on the NAFTA agreement. This category is available to nationals of many countries with relevant treaties with the United States and requires substantial trade or investment in the United States. Without these visa categories allowing Canadian and Mexican citizens to obtain U.S. immigration status, incentives will be reduced and important mechanisms underlying Foreign Direct Investment will cease to exist.

While the majority of Texans voted for Trump, that does not mean that Texans have supported — or should support — each and every statement made during a heated campaign. During this critical period when administrative priorities are being set, Texans should make the Trump administration aware that campaign rhetoric can now be set aside and make clear that withdrawal from NAFTA is not in the best interest of Texans, Texas jobs and our future economic development.

Loughran is a partner of Foster LLP.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Opinion

With ‘Spineless,’ Austin author explores both her past and jellyfish
With ‘Spineless,’ Austin author explores both her past and jellyfish

Consider, if you will, the humble jellyfish. It’s a creature both 95 percent water and often possessed of one of the planet’s deadliest venoms. A creature that has existed in its current form, more or less, for millions of years, yet is one of the planet’s most delicate. In some languages, jellyfish translates as “living water&rdquo...
Commentary: Boeing ruling stretched to keep government records secret
Commentary: Boeing ruling stretched to keep government records secret

Every week, government officials across Texas and private companies receiving taxpayer dollars get increasingly creative in hiding public records. Their new tool is the Boeing ruling, a decision from the Texas Supreme Court that lowered the threshold for arguing competitive bidding as an exemption from disclosure under the Texas Public Information...
Commentary: As Austin’s many faiths gather, a common humanity emerges
Commentary: As Austin’s many faiths gather, a common humanity emerges

Every year, I work with diverse faith leaders to plan Interfaith Action of Central Texas’ (iACT) annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Service. It involves weeks of meetings with new groups. Each year is completely unique. It is one of the greatest experiences of growth I have each year — and it always brings out new talents and skills in myself...
This Thanksgiving, here are 5 myths about American Indians
This Thanksgiving, here are 5 myths about American Indians

Thanksgiving recalls for many people a meal between European colonists and indigenous Americans that we have invested with all the symbolism we can muster. But the new arrivals who sat down to share venison with some of America's original inhabitants relied on a raft of misconceptions that began as early as the 1500s, when Europeans produced fanciful...
Letters to the editor: Nov. 23, 2017

There is a well-worn real estate mantra: “location, location, location.” But poor design can ruin a great location. The city of Austin and the University of Texas have overlooked the need for a level of architectural control for years. UT is completing such a master stroke at Guadalupe Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard with the...
More Stories