Senator Charles Grassley, R.-Iowa, said March 5 that he has written a letter to President Barack Obama in an effort to clarify the president's intentions regarding the North American Free Trade Agreement.
"As a presidential candidate, you are reported to have described this trade agreement as 'devastating' and a 'big mistake,'" Grassley wrote. "You also stated that you would 'make sure that we renegotiate' the North American Free Trade Agreement and that 'we should use the hammer of a potential opt-out as leverage' to pressure Mexico and Canada to make changes to this trade agreement. Yet, in your recently released Trade Policy Agenda, you state that your Administration will work with Mexico and Canada to identify ways in which the North American Free Trade Agreement could be improved without having an adverse effect on trade."
Grassley wrote that he disagrees with the idea of renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement. "The North American Free Trade Agreement leveled the playing field by reducing Mexico's tariffs on our exports and creating significant new market access opportunities for U.S. exporters. I question how this agreement could be changed without having an adverse effect on trade."
In his letter, Grassley added that he is concerned that if NAFTA is reopened, "Mexico will seek to rebalance tariff concessions in a way that will adversely affect agricultural exports from Iowa. More broadly, I am concerned that the signals you are sending with respect to the North American Free Trade Agreement are creating uncertainty in the marketplace. We can ill-afford such uncertainty as we work to recover from our national economic downturn."