The National Marine Manufacturers Association urged its members to weigh in on the possible renegotiation or termination of the North American Free Trade Agreement as Capitol Hill buzzed Wednesday afternoon with word that President Donald Trump might scrap the agreement altogether.
“It could be just rhetoric, [but right now] we don’t know if it’s going to be a complete redo or complete withdrawal,” NMMA federal and legal affairs vice president Nicole Vasilaros said during a webinar regarding the upcoming American Boating Congress. “The word coming out of the White House is that President Trump is drafting legislation to withdraw from NAFTA completely.”
President Trump set off a flurry of news reports when his aides said he would likely sign a directive starting a six-month process of ending the agreement between the United States, Canada and Mexico.
Canada is the No. 1 importer of U.S.-made boats, as well as the top trading partner for the United States, Vasilaros said during the webinar. Mexico is also an important component of the marine industry.
The president’s stance today appeared to soften somewhat, with reports circulating that he will renegotiate the trade deal or terminate it, according to The New York Times — which is the stance he has taken since he began campaigning.
“I know that several of our manufacturers are deeply concerned about a complete withdrawal,” Vasilaros said during Wednesday’s webinar. “It throws a wrench — it’s not what I was hearing before. The word was that there would be negotiations.”
Vasilaros, who sits on a trade advisory council to the president and Department of Commerce, encouraged manufacturers and dealers to weigh in via a survey issued by the NMMA, asking businesses what about the agreement is working for them and what they’d like to see renegotiated.
“I have an inside line into the Department of Commerce and the White House,” Vasilaros said. “I would say, if you have concerns, one, fill out that survey, and two, let me know about them, send an email or call me.”
The intent of the webinar was to outline five of the top issues that the NMMA is hoping to emphasize during its time at ABC May 15-17 on Capitol Hill.
Trade is listed as one of those issues, along with transportation and infrastructure, tax reform, recreational fishing, and ethanol and Renewable Fuel Standard reform