New York’s leading Tea Party organization, Buffalonians for New Leadership, is calling on President Donald J. Trump to scrap the North American Free Trade Agreement, and to replace it with a new “bi-lateral , reciprocal, and fair” agreement with Canada that includes integrating the banking and financial markets, opening the Northern border, and loosening cross-border work restrictions.
They argue that reciprocity of access to each trading partner’s markets must be at the heart of America’s trade policies — and that trade relationships must be managed on a bi-lateral basis, in order to be managed at all. They point to NAFTA as being symbolic of what’s wrong with trade policy: that its terms give foreign competitors vastly greater access to our markets than our trade partners allow our firms in their markets, and that it does so on a tangled multi-lateral basis.
It’s clear that this Tea Party group — located in a community that lies just across the Niagara River from Ontario — wants a very different posture with Canada than it does with Mexico. With Canada they call for opening the Northern border, reducing the costs of doing cross-border business, eliminating duties and customs, and breaking the government-backed Canadian banking monopoly, which entirely bans American banks from opening retail deposit branches in Canada.
“The Canadian government has performed as an able partner, but the Mexican government has not. We have a nearly failed State on our own border, ravaged by a drug war that they couldn’t put down and impoverished by corrupt officials,” explains Matthew Ricchiazzi, one of the co-founders of the group. “This is unacceptable to the shared security interests we have with the Mexican people, who are being defrauded of an able government.”
If he were advising the President, Ricchiazzi would encourage Trump to cease talks of renegotiating NAFTA just ahead of the midterms later this year. He wants Trump to commence two separate negotiating tracts: one to evolve the relationship with Canada, and another to hold the Mexican government accountable to international norms.
Mr. Ricchiazzi is grateful for President Trump’s effort to “fix our trade relationships” and to revive domestic manufacturing. He thinks Trump has a moral responsibility to the Mexican people to demand constitutional reforms and new public corruption laws, if the government expects to maintain its privileged relationship with the American marketplace.
Political observers think that formally ending NAFTA will flip six United States Senate seats in the Rust Belt, where Democrats are seeking reelection in States that voted for Trump; including Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Missouri. Such a scenario could secure Republican control of the chamber for the next decade.