2017 Oct 6, 10:15am
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The Chamber of Commerce warned Friday that the Trump administration appears to be on the path to pulling out of the North American Free Trade Agreement, on the eve of the fourth round of talks to renegotiate that deal. “Today we are increasingly concerned with the state of play with the negotiations,” John Murphy, the chamber’s senior vice president for international policy, told reporters Friday. He said the administration’s continued pursuit of a sunset clause for NAFTA and its push to favor U.S. companies for government contracts, over those from Canada and Mexico, was alarming the business community.
“The vast majority of business groups oppose these provisions emphatically,” Murphy said, adding that Canada and Mexico, the other countries in the deal, were not inclined to support them either. “The concern is that leading with these proposals could lead to a chaotic breakdown in the talks.” That could lead the Trump administration to pull out of the deal entirely, he warned. President Trump has repeatedly made that threat in the past if the administration does not get what it wants out of the talks. “There is an old adage in negotiations: Never take a hostage you wouldn’t shoot,” Murphy said. He urged the administration to pull back and “recalibrate” on the talks. The comments were a stark break from protocol for the Chamber, the nation’s leading business lobby, which is rarely so publicly critical of an administration on trade matters. Murphy was stumped when asked a by a reporter of a previous instance of the Chamber opposing the White House in this manner.,