San Diego

President's Disdain for NAFTA Could Impact San Diego's Jobs

Nearly 100,000 jobs in San Diego County are dependent on the North American Free Trade Agreement, but that agreement doesn't have the backing of President Donald Trump.

Trump has called NAFTA "a disaster" and "the worst trade deal in history."

It has been in effect since 1993.

While critics say the agreement has cost the U.S. a lot of manufacturing jobs, it has been productive for other sectors of our economy.

In the fourth and most heated round of NAFTA renegotiations, the Trump Administration issued a demand that at least 50 percent of the parts in cars and pickup trucks imported from Mexico be American-made.

The U.S. is also calling for a "sunset" clause in the deal that would end NAFTA in five years, unless all three countries agree to renew it.

Canada's foreign minister, Chrystia Freeland, said that "winner-takes-all  mindset” would jeopardize 10,000 jobs in her country.

More than 300 of the U.S.'s Chambers of Commerce, including San Diego's and four others in San Diego County, have sent a letter to President Trump urging that NAFTA be modernized but not walked away from.

Leaders in Mexico and Canada have said it looks as though Trump is deliberately making losing propositions for U.S. trade partners.

"We've also seen Mexico start to explore options and trade on the Pacific," said Jerry Sanders, president and CEO of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce. "So that if this goes away they'll have relationships in China, Asia and Japan. So they've got a big economy right now, and they've really been booming over the years." 

And there could be downside impacts on San Diego.

Sanders said every job created in Baja California has the effect of creating half a job in San Diego, in the manufacturing, supply chain, and shipment sectors.

“So we’re keenly aware of the effects of if NAFTA went away, [and] what would be happening in terms of job creation and job retention,” Sanders added.

NAFTA's trade representatives will meet in Washington for a fifth time on November 17th.

As talks broke down last month, envoys from Mexico and Canada vowed to stick together and keep working to improve the agreement.

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