What impact will Pres. Trump's NAFTA negotiations have on Tennessee?

Dec 8, 2017

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WMOT/AP)  --  A mid-state economist says President Trump’s effort to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement is not going well.

A statement released by the U.S., Canada and Mexico on Tuesday says progress was made during the most recent round of treaty talks, but the press release doesn’t provide specifics.

Robert Lighthizer
Credit cspan.org

Speaking separately, U.S. chief NAFTA negotiator Robert Lighthizer says he sees no evidence Canada or Mexico are willing to accept President Trump’s terms.

Middle Tennessee State University economist Steven Livingston says he doesn’t believe that’s likely to change.

“And at that point the Trump Administration is going to have to make a decision about whether to pull out of NAFTA, which would be a big deal, obviously, or try to continue the negotiations.”

Dr. Livingston specializes in the study of international trade. He notes NAFTA tied Tennessee to a manufacturing supply chain than spans North and South America. He says the automotive industry alone has cross-border connections worth billions.

“Ripping apart NAFTA now is just going to… It’s not going to bring us back to 1994. It’s just going to cause a different kind of chaos.”

Livingston notes some auto makers have already said they will not bring those vehicle assembly jobs back to the U.S. if NAFTA is scuttled. They will instead send that work to China.

The NAFTA negotiations were supposed to wrap up this month, but that deadline won’t be met. The next round of talks have been scheduled for the end of January.