As Democrats struggle to counter President Donald Trump on trade policy, Sen. Bernie Sanders pledged Wednesday to renegotiate the U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement if he's elected president, citing the lack of provisions to address climate change.
Sanders voted against the USMCA implementing bill, which President Donald Trump signed into law on Wednesday. The other two leading presidential candidates who are senators, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, both voted for it.
“The NAFTA 2.0 … is an absolute disaster,” Sanders said in a statement released by his campaign. “In addition to doing nothing to stop the offshoring of jobs, the deal is a giveaway to the fossil fuel industry at a time when climate change threatens our planet.”
He said the agreement does nothing to prevent fossil fuel companies “from dumping their waste and pollution into Mexico” and also won’t prevent the transshipment of Canadian tar sands oil though the United States.
Sanders and other Democratic candidates have been trying to differentiate their trade policies from Trump’s.
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Joe Glauber, a former chief economist for the Agriculture Department, said former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg is an exception among the top candidates because of his “professed belief in free trade and open markets.”
Sanders and Warren, on the other hand, “are far more protectionist,” noting that both are advocating supply controls and increased commodity price supports that could hamper farm exports, Glauber said, speaking at an American Enterprise Institute forum on the presidential candidates. “These are policies that are much more insular than outward looking,” Glauber said.
He noted that Sanders, Warren and Klobuchar also have “talked about the importance of trade remedy laws like Section 232 and Section 301,” the legal authority Trump has used to impose tariffs on China as well as Mexico and Canada.
Glauber also said it’s not clear how a Democratic president will handle China, if Trump is defeated. “It’s hard to beat the tariff man there ... in terms of acting, or at least appearing, tough," Glauber said, referring to Trump's use of tariffs as negotiating leverage.
Glauber co-authored an AEI analysis released Wednesday of the candidates' agriculture policies.
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