If talks fail, NAFTA may be minus one partner

President Donald Trump open to ending 3-way pact

SAN ANTONIO – If talks fail, President Donald Trump said Wednesday that the U.S. would either walk away or he was open to a bilateral North American Free Trade Agreement that would be minus one partner, either Mexico or Canada.

After meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Trump said, “We have to protect our workers, and in all fairness, the prime minister wants to protect Canada and his people also.”

However, Alonzo Pena, an international security consultant and the former deputy director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said if Mexico is excluded from the 1994 trade pact, “I’m very confused by what we think we’re going to accomplish.”

Pena also said he doubts Canada would agree.

“I think Canada is not that narrow-minded and that shortsighted,” he said. “Canada is more responsible, much more visionary to say that, ‘That’s wrong.’”

Pena said cutting out Mexico would have a chilling effect.

“It’s very, very, very concerning,” Pena said.

He said the border cities from San Diego to Brownsville, Texas, would be impacted, as would Mexico.

Pena said cities such as Laredo, which have benefited from NAFTA, could “dry up.” And if Mexico loses jobs created by free trade, he said, illegal immigration would increase.

He also said there would be less cooperation between the U.S. and Mexico on several fronts.

There could be “less communication and coordination on national security matters whenever the U.S. wants information," Pena said.

Pena said Mexico requires its citizens to have national ID cards with biometric information that it could share with the U.S. "when we’re dealing with people that come here and wanting to know who they are.”

Although the president has said he wants to put America first, Pena said he believes talk of possibly leaving Mexico, one of its major trading partners, on the sidelines is an effort to appeal to his political supporters.

“For some reason, his base is anti-immigrant, anti-Hispanic, and this plays into that," Pena said.

About the Author:

Jessie Degollado has been with KSAT since 1984. She is a general assignments reporter who covers a wide variety of stories. Raised in Laredo and as an anchor/reporter at KRGV in the Rio Grande Valley, Jessie is especially familiar with border and immigration issues. In 2007, Jessie also was inducted into the San Antonio Women's Hall of Fame.