Trump Administration Not Capable of Renegotiating NAFTA: David Frum

Will Canadians see a renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement any time soon? Don’t bet on it, says political commentator David Frum.

Earlier this week, the editor of The Atlantic and former speech writer for George W. Bush, shared his thoughts on the Donald Trump presidency and possible NAFTA renegotiation at the Grain Farmers of Ontario March Classic meeting at London, Ontario.

For Canadians concerned about agriculture, Frum feels the biggest news is how serious Trump is about his protectionist commitments. Renegotiating NAFTA is one of the items atop the new president’s to-do list, but Frum believes there can be little accomplished given the U.S. government’s current state.

“The Trump administration does not have the infrastructure to negotiate trade deals,” says Frum, noting that one of the distinct features of the new government is how slow it has been to staff everything except the White House.

“The White House has been filled up rapidly, very often with some strange and doubtful people. But the operating part of the government – the Cabinet departments, including the Department of Agriculture, have been very slow to staff.” Without effective government staff, Frum says: “I don’t believe the Trump administration has the capacity to renegotiate NAFTA.”

In this interview, Frum offers further thoughts on the stalled confirmation of Agriculture Secretary nominee Sonny Perdue, the Canadian government’s strategic approach to the new U.S administration, and what we might expect from Donald Trump during the next three months.

See related: David Frum’s Advice for the Prime Minister on Dealing with Trump

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