Opting out of NAFTA? Nonsense

Clinton: “I will say to Mexico that we will opt out of NAFTA unless we renegotiate it.”

Drezner: “Democrats cannot simultaneously talk about improving America’s standing abroad while acting like a belligerent unilateralist when it comes to trade policy.”

No president will pull out of NAFTA. That would be an unmitigated foreign policy disaster. (It wouldn’t be an economic disaster, as the US already has low MFN tariffs on most products it imports from Canada and Mexico.) There simply won’t be a belligerent unilateral scuttling of our trade deal. On the other hand, diplomacy is about words, not merely actions. The neighbors may tire of being made scapegoats.

Drezner: “Scary fact of the day: the anti-NAFTA pandering is not the worst trade rhetoric emanating from the candidates. No, for that you’d have to turn to Obama’s co-sponsoring of the Patriot Employer Act — which Willem Buiter and Anne Sibert label, ‘reactionary, populist, xenophobic and just plain silly.'”

Pulling out of NAFTA may be worse. The Patriot Employer Act offers a voluntary tax break, not mandated protectionism.