AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on Sunday poured cold water on President Trump’s nascent trade agreement with Mexico, saying that any effort by the administration to revamp the North American Free Trade Agreement should include Canada as well.
In an interview on “Fox News Sunday,” Trumka said that the economies of the United States, Mexico and Canada are integrated, and that “it’s pretty hard to see how that would work without having Canada in the deal.”
“We’re anxious to move forward with it and anxious to have all three countries involved, because NAFTA has had a devastating effect on the working people of this country for the last 25 years,” he said.
As the head of the country’s largest federation of labor unions, Trumka is an influential voice on trade issues, and the prospects for passage of any legislation promoted by Trump are likely to dim without his support.
It is unclear whether the president has the legal authority to withdraw from NAFTA without congressional approval.
Even so, Trump announced last week that he was proceeding with plans to abandon the agreement and was working out the specifics of a new bilateral trade deal with Mexico. Talks between the White House and Canadian leaders faltered Friday, the same day that the Toronto Star published explosive off-the-record comments Trump made the previous day in an interview with Bloomberg News.
Trump later tweeted his displeasure that the comments were leaked and followed up with a tweet Saturday in which he said that there is “no political necessity” to make Canada part of any new NAFTA.
Republican lawmakers have signaled that they are wary of any plan that does not include Canada.
Trumka said that his organization has been “aggressively pursuing an agreement that works for the workers in all three countries, and I can say we’re not done yet.”
Talks between the United States and Canada are set to resume Wednesday.
Damian Paletta contributed to this report.