GOP Panel Leader Open to Holding Hearing on NAFTA

But Rep. Brady believes consultation with key Trump officials is providing adequate oversight

House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) said he is open to holding a hearing on NAFTA with Trump administration witnesses, as some Democrats want, but he said he believes the committee's ongoing consultation required by law with key administration officials is providing adequate oversight of renegotiation goals.

But a growing number of lawmakers, business and association groups are worried about the direction of ongoing NAFTA 2.0 talks.

Sen. Roberts on NAFTA 2.0. Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) warned at a Chamber of Commerce event Tuesday that the administration’s path on trade “is fraught with a lot of dangers” and could, if left unchanged, bring devastating effects to rural America.

Roberts expressed frustration with the president’s stated interest in triggering NAFTA withdrawal solely to win concessions from Canada and Mexico, something the Senate Agriculture chairman referred to as “the wrong way to approach it... “I did mention to the president it’s like Humpty Dumpty — you can’t push him off the wall,” Roberts said. “Putting that back together is very difficult.”

Sen. Cruz on NAFTA 2.0. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) warned Tuesday that the U.S. will face "massive economic costs" if Trump pulls out of the landmark trade pact. Cruz said: “NAFTA has created millions of jobs across the United States,” and “Texans believe in international trade.” He expressed concern that Trump, whom he generally supports, would seek to use the ongoing NAFTA renegotiation to reduce trade and erect protectionist barriers rather than to expand trade... Trump, he said, is being pulled in two different directions by pro-trade and anti-trade voices in his administration. “Which direction will the administration go? I will tell you candidly: I don’t know,” Cruz said. He added: “I think it depends which voices will be listened to.”

Trump’s intense focus on reducing trade deficits could lead to the death of the World Trade Organization, a New York Times columnist writes in an op-ed. Link.

Trump wants to achieve fair and reciprocal trade, a senior administration official said at the White House Tuesday. “He wants market principles to be what are most operative in our trading relations throughout the world,” the official said. The president believes there was an erosion of standards over time as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) broadened and added new partners, and that his administration can do better, the official said, without commenting on when or how new bilateral negotiations would commence. Trump is firmly convinced that on a bilateral basis, he would be able to achieve higher standards and better terms for American workers and business, the official said.

President Trump on Friday begins the longest trip to Asia of any president in modern history. He will make his first official visit to Asia from Nov. 3-14, with stops in Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam, and the Philippines. During his stops in Vietnam and the Philippines, he is scheduled to participate in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation and the U.S.-ASEAN summits.