WASHINGTON – House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) said the North American Free Trade Agreement is “not perfect” but it “cannot be scrapped.”
“It’s been 25 years since the ratification of NAFTA – before this [smartphone] was invented, just to put it in perspective. It’s an agreement that in my view has been largely successful to the United States, Mexico and Canada. It’s enhanced our global competitiveness and the North American trading bloc as a whole with Canada, the United States and Mexico,” McCaul said during a recent Atlantic Council event, “NAFTA and North American Energy: What Comes Next?”
“However, in the last two decades, I think the world has changed in significant ways as new technologies have been deployed and developed and governments have made groundbreaking reforms in the way they operate. I think this has created new threats and challenges, both also new opportunities for engagement in meaningful ways, both politically and economically,” he added.
McCaul said NAFTA has been particularly successful with energy.
“NAFTA is not perfect – nothing is – and it must be modernized, but it has helped foster the important dynamic energy relationship between our countries,” he said. “The idea of putting energy under the umbrella of the NAFTA framework was a win-win.”
He praised the Mexican government for allowing private foreign investment in Pemex for the first time back in 2008.
“Remember, Pemex was always the people’s oil. It was nationalistic controlled. It was the people’s oil. You could not touch it,” he said. “These accomplishments have placed North America on course to achieve energy self-sufficiency by 2020, a goal near 40 years in the making.”
McCaul stressed that the U.S. should not push Mexico away with its trade policies.
“We don’t want a policy that’s going to push Mexico away from the United States that geographically is just south of our border, and push them to the Chinese. I think that would be a very perverted result and something that at all costs we should be mindful of,” he said.
McCaul also said he has the “utmost confidence” that the U.S. can come to an agreement on the modernization of NAFTA with Canada and Mexico.
“Both sides agree it’s not only necessary but it also presents opportunities for the United States to work collaboratively with both Mexico and Canada. I believe we can enhance a trilateral agreement to bolster North American competitiveness, which will benefit all nations involved in the process,” he said.
“I think I’m making the case for NAFTA. I think the White House is understanding this as well. Today, North America accounts for nearly 30 percent of the world’s natural gas production and nearly 14 percent of the world’s oil reserves,” he added.
Trump recently said Mexico and Canada are being difficult during NAFTA negotiations and expressed a willingness to “terminate” the deal if necessary.
“We are in the NAFTA (worst trade deal ever made) renegotiation process with Mexico & Canada. Both being very difficult, may have to terminate?” he tweeted late last month.