Tearing Up NAFTA: Easier Said than Done

By Chad P. Bown

Chad P. Bown joined the Peterson Institute for International Economics as a senior fellow in April 2016. His research examines international trade laws and institutions, trade negotiations, and trade disputes. Bown previously served as senior economist for international trade and investment in the White House on the Council of Economic Advisers and most recently as a lead economist at the World Bank, conducting research and advising developing country governments on international trade policy for seven years. Bown was a tenured professor of economics at Brandeis University, where he held a joint appointment in the Department of Economics and International Business School for 12 years. He has also spent a year in residence as a visiting scholar in economic research at the World Trade Organization (WTO) Secretariat in Geneva. Bown received a BA magna cum laude in economics and international relations from Bucknell University and a PhD in economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is currently a member of the advisory board of the Bucknell Institute for Public Policy.

President-elect Donald Trump consistently lambasted the North American Free Trade Association (NAFTA) as a “the worst deal, possibly in history,” one which unfairly disadvantages American workers. He has promised to renegotiate the agreement, or possibly even get rid of it altogether. However, critics contend that the effect of degrading trade relations with Washington’s two largest trading partners could be devastating. Others point out that the legal basis for backing out of the deal is shaky at best. The Cipher Brief spoke with former Senior Economist of International Trade and Investment in the White House Council of Economic Advisors and Senior Fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, Chad Bown.

The Cipher Brief: Assuming that President-elect Trump’s previous statements on NAFTA represent his planned policy, what can we expect his administration to do to undermine the agreement?

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