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Rewriting NAFTA Has Serious Implications Beyond Just Trade

Trump has called the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) our “worst trade deal.” After flip-flopping between scrapping NAFTA altogether and saying that the agreement required only tweaks, President Trump is trying to force a renegotiation of a deal that supports three million American jobs.While this may seem like just another trade dispute, albeit one repeatedly arbitrated by the World Trade Organization, NAFTA isn’t just a trade deal. America’s changing border policies – whether spurred by the 9/11 attacks or concerns over illegal immigration – have affected the economies of all three participating countries. A focus on harmonizing border policies led to a proliferation of cooperative programs, including government working groups focused on drug control and multi-agency law enforcement teams tackling cross-border criminal activity and terrorism. The extent of cooperation even led some scholars to call for a North American “security community” with no internal borders.Security cooperation in the name of economic gain, however, has not yet led to the wide open borders of the European Union. A post-NAFTA world?As plans for President Trump’s “big, beautiful wall” on the U.S.-Mexico border continue, it should come as no surprise that an agreement aimed at swiftly moving goods, services and people across borders would be in the president’s sight.

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