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TPP, NAFTA and Iran: How Trump Could Change the U.S.’s Relationship With the World

by Countable | 11.23.16

One of the primary themes of President-Elect Donald Trump’s campaign was that the U.S. is being exploited by foreign governments which have been "absolutely abusing us and [taking] advantage of us" during the Obama administration. As president, Trump vowed he would change course by renegotiating trade deals or international agreements that disadvantage the U.S. and calling on America’s allies to step up their contributions to global security.

The Constitution gives the president a lot of discretion over international affairs, so there will plenty of opportunities for Trump to put his own stamp on U.S. foreign policy soon after taking office. We’ve broken down the state of play for several major agreements that the U.S. is party to, to give you an idea of their outlook under the Trump administration.

While Trump can take steps to unilaterally change America’s foreign policy, Congress does have the ability to keep him in check, potentially passing laws to alter his decisions or undo them entirely. You can let your reps in Congress know how you feel about these areas of foreign policy and others by using the take action button.

NAFTA

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is a trade deal which took effect in 1994 and reduced barriers to trade and investment between the U.S., Canada and Mexico, such as tariffs (taxes on imports). It was frequent target of Trump’s presidential campaign, as he blamed NAFTA for driving American manufacturers to relocate to Mexico.

Trump has called for the U.S. to leave NAFTA unless it can be renegotiated to put American businesses and workers in a more competitive position relative to their neighbors to the north and south. Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto has that he would be willing to talk about ways to "modernize" the treaty without renegotiating existing provisions, while Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he is “keeping our options open” over potential trade talks.

Any renegotiation would require new concessions by all sides on diverse aspects of economic policy — ranging from Canadian lumber, Mexico’s environmental regulations, and "Buy American" requirements for federal contracts — so it’s unlikely that they’d be wrapped up quickly.

If negotiations don’t go to his liking, Trump could give six months notice about America’s intent to leave NAFTA. One member of Congress, Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), has already introduced a bill that sets a time limit on renegotiations before the U.S. would leave NAFTA. As Vox reported, Trump is planning to make a determination about withdrawal from NAFTA by day 200 of his presidency, so the trade deal’s future should be determined before the end of 2017.

Trans-Pacific Partnership

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a trade deal between the U.S. and 11 other Pacific nations that has been negotiated by President Obama but still requires ratification by Congress before it takes effect. Its goal is to make it easier and cheaper for those countries to trade by reducing taxes on imports. But Trump worries that it will lead to more foreign-made products in the U.S. and fewer American products sold overseas, meaning fewer jobs in the U.S.

There had been talk of Congress trying to ratify TPP during its lame duck session, but lawmakers quashed that idea and won’t consider it until 2017 at the earliest. Given the results of the election, they may not get to consider it at all, as Trump has said that he will notify the other parties to TPP that he intends to withdraw from the agreement on his first day in office. Trump said his administration will instead negotiate free trade agreements with those nations individually.

Paris Climate Change Agreement

While it only took effect in November, the Paris Agreement deals with limiting greenhouse gas emissions to combat climate change beginning with benchmarks starting in 2020 that would be reassessed every five years thereafter. It has been signed by 197 nations, including the U.S., in a controversial fashion. In September 2016, the White House announced that it wouldn’t seek the "advice and consent" of the Senate to ratify the TPP as a treaty, but instead opted to finalize America’s participation through an executive agreement that won’t bind future administrations to the deal.

On the campaign trail, Trump had said that "we’re going to cancel the Paris climate agreement," but since his election he has been less definitive on the subject. In a meeting with journalists from the New York Times, Trump opened the door to keeping it intact, saying of the climate change deal: “I’m looking at it very closely. I have an open mind to it.”

Iran Nuclear Agreement

The Iran nuclear deal, which Trump has repeatedly criticized, is an agreement between the government of Iran and six other nations including the U.S., which allows Iran greater access to its nuclear facilities and curtails its enrichment of material that could be weaponized, in exchange for sanctions relief.

Much like the Paris Agreement, the fact that the Iran nuclear agreement was never ratified as a treaty could give the Trump administration the opportunity to quickly withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Trump has been a vocal critic of the nuclear agreement, calling it a "disaster" and the “worst deal ever negotiated” because he fears that it could lead to a “nuclear holocaust.” Given that sanctions against Iran were lifted by President Obama’s executive orders, Trump would be able to reinstate them with the stroke of a pen once he’s in the White House. While the U.S. wouldn’t face any direct repercussions for abandoning the deal, it would raise questions over Iran’s continued commitment the concessions it made surrounding its nuclear program.

NATO

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is a military alliance that includes the U.S. and 27 other member nations who have agreed to provide for the collective defense of all members. They’re bound together by NATO’s Article 5, which is known as the "Three Musketeers clause" because it states that an attack on one nation is to be considered an attack on all members of the alliance. To ensure that all members are able to contribute, each nation has committed to spend at least 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense.

Though he never called for the U.S. to leave NATO, Trump called NATO "obsolete" because many members are failing to live up to their commitment and spend the required amount on defense. Only five of the 28 member nations met their goal in 2015. Trump had said that countries must meet those obligations before they can be assured of the U.S. defending them, but later softened his stance in the first presidential debate, saying that he’s “all for NATO.”

Following his election, Trump spoke with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to chat about the "enduring importance" of the alliance and its evolution in the age of terrorism. Stoltenberg said of the spending commitments that “progress has been made on fairer burden-sharing, but there is more to do.”

Congress has introduced a bill to reaffirm America’s commitment to NATO and another that calls on member countries to meet their defense spending obligations, so this will be an aspect of foreign policy to watch after Trump’s inauguration.

— Eric Revell
Photo Credit Gage Skidmore / Creative Commons

Countable

Written by Countable

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(21)
  • Olivia
    11/25/2016
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    We have to keep the Paris Climate accords. Environmental issues are so hard to fix when they go bad, and need everyone's participation to fix. Environmental issues are never prioritized even though they affect everyone.

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  • John
    11/25/2016
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    Can we ever see his tax returns?

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  • Hillorie
    11/26/2016
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    I agree America is one big business but why put a guy in charge of our country when he has gone bankrupt countless times.. he can't be that good of a businessman with that track record.

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  • Kathy
    11/25/2016
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    Trump is not interested in anything other than making a buck. We're in for a world of hurt.

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  • Josh
    11/25/2016
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    I want to see Trump continue to pressure our NATO allies to contribute the 2% they signed on for. If they aren't willing to contribute why should we put American lives at risk in a conflict?

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  • Mindful
    11/28/2016
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    I would expect in a 'normal' set of post-election circumstances, the POTUS-elect would educate himself thoroughly about each of these issues. Before issuing his juvenile "tweets" reflecting his inner insecurity--his self- loathing. Remember, he said 'I need to be loved' at the NYT fiasco. Isn't this demonstrative of a pathological ( I am Professional LCSW-allowed to think/express these kind of words) condition like, Narcissistic Personality Disorder---look it up in DSM V- Diagnostic Statistical Manual V. It's amazing that Media has not called in 'my kind' of Professional for guidance/ information as easy as they call-in an expert in Environment, Climate Change, Law Enforcement, etc. This to aid them in pontificating about the POTUS-elect personality proclivities and contrast with other more normal behaviors of the general populace. Just a thought to consider. Maybe if we were so enlightened-- repeatedly like he 'showman-like' did ad nauseum. Projecting--another word to look up. Did you notice how he repeatedly cited attributes--really his own! and applied-Projected them on others, i.e. 'Crooked Hillary','lying Ted'..who is really crooked or lies more regularly? Enough already, I feel much better.

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  • David
    11/25/2016
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    Trump is spot on, negotiate deals with our nation's best interests as the goal.

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  • Dakota
    11/29/2016
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    Trump is a businessman. To run a country like a business is horrifically frightening. It's exactly what Bush did. You cannot run a country like you run a business, that's why the news made a big deal out of him not having political experience. You can't substitute business experience for political experience, and if people think you can, that opens the door for a hyper-capitalist conglomerate neoliberalistic government, which should be avoided at all costs.

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  • Pegleg4570
    11/26/2016
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    Go Donald !

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  • Damian
    11/25/2016
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    ...so essentially what the entire point of TTP and TTIP was...?

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  • MadelineM
    11/29/2016
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    Please ratify the Paris Peace Climate Agreement Treaty!!!! Save the Environment before it's too late!!! If you do this, the environmentalist community will be extremely pleased with you. You could gain more support.

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  • Troy
    11/26/2016
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    This is why we put him in there. He is a business man. America is nothing more or less than a very large business. It must be run like a business, not a charity. I say go for it!

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  • John
    11/25/2016
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    David are you interested in his tax returns?

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  • Michael
    11/26/2016
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    Okay first, Trumps tax returns and his business history doesn't matter. He's the president now like it or not, so get over it. Now TTP & Iran is one thing, but I have to disagree with Trump on NAFTA. I don't think it was necessarily a bad thing. Protectionism, subsidies, & monopolies are always bad for consumers no matter if it's corporations or government. When we subsidize industries or add tariffs to goods it's American consumers who pay more for their goods not the foreign nation. It might temperately help those small groups of people in that industry but it also hurts others trying to export their goods because nations respond with raising tariffs on our goods. Research the Smoot Hauley tariffs of the 1930's.

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  • Btbrown94
    11/26/2016
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    Hillorie, have you never failed at something? Those who have never failed, have never truly known how to succeed. It's the not the fact that he has failed, it's the fact that despite his failures, he is successful.

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  • NoHedges
    05/16/2018
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    Trump has clearly found another path to the war he so wanted last summer with Korea and didn't get. If Congress does nothing to stop Trump they will be remembered as the 115th Nuclear Idiots. Your legacy will be that of a legislative body that was so brainwashed that they fail to protect million of Americans from a NUCLEAR 9/11. Use amendment 25 section 4:unfit for office can be enacted in 28 days, it should be fairly easy considering 45 has yet to complete an authentic medical examiner declaring him fit for office. A NUCLEAR 9/11 that has the potential to kill everyone's and anyone's loved ones. Not just the poor, a NUCLEAR 9/11 that could strike anyone, anywhere, at anytime. The US is wide open for such an attack, especially after Trump's UN behavior.

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  • Jeannette
    11/26/2016
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    I'm for getting out of bad deals. Those ppl that are worried about climate warning did you know scientists have found a way to take carbon out of the air and turn it into ethanol? So a big yes to all, get us out of these bad deals.

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  • Leslie
    12/03/2016
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    CEDAW

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  • David
    12/01/2016
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    Whenever the cash flow within a nation ceases there is an impact on jobs and production, lack of taxation stops this cash flow and turns it outward with the purchase of products from other countries, all of these "agreements" and "treaties" accomplish two major things, it chokes the wealth of the people and lines the pockets of the fat cats. These two major things will eventually lead to two classes of people, rich and poor leaving the poor as slave subjects and the rich in control and demise of the country and in a global entity the whole planet dies, one by one and there is no single survivor to assist the others. What will the rich do if they no longer have a product to sell if the poor have no money to buy the product. A total failure of civilization is the final outcome.

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  • James
    11/27/2016
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    Yes he must do as he promised! Obama should be put up on charges for gross negligence as well!

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