Submitted by Taps Coogan on the 17th of January 2018 to The Sounding Line.
As the NAFTA negotiations between the US, Canada, and Mexico drudge forward with no clear agreement yet in sight, Geopolitical Futures‘ George Friedman, had this to note in a recent interview:
“Well, what’s going on is a negotiation and in every negotiation everybody is going to say ‘this isn’t going to work, I’m walking.’ There is no one who goes to a negotiation and says ‘My god, I’ve got to have this deal. I’m going to do this deal no matter what the price.’ So the idea that you are going to have the renegotiation of a complex treaty and at various points everybody isn’t going to threaten to walk is just unrealistic. That’s not how negotiations take place. Now sometimes they breakdown, but the mere fact that people are posturing and planning and saying it’s hopeless and planning for the future without it doesn’t mean it’s over. It means we are getting to the point where really important issues are being discussed.”
“Well I think (pulling out of NAFTA) is extremely unlikely, regardless of whether Trump wants to or not. I think one of the great things about this entire affair is that it will finally give Mexicans and Canadians and Cambodians a chance to understand how the United States actually operates because everyone is fixated on the Prime Minister of Canada because he is very powerful. The president of the United States is not nearly so powerful, as we have seen with legislation after legislation being shot down, as we have seen with the court system blocking the President in every-which-way. So the first thing to begin with is no the President is not going to decide what is going to happen.”
“The most important political fact is this: two states in the Union have Mexico as their number on export partner. The largest is California, a democratic state, absolutely opposed to leaving NAFTA. The second largest is Texas, also most of its leaders opposed to leaving NAFTA, a republican state. So you have the largest democratic delegation and the largest republican delegation, neither of them want to leave NAFTA.”
“There has been a religion of free trade and that religion held that in the long run free trade benefits everyone and that may be true but it leaves out two questions. How long does it take to benefit everyone and where does the wealth go to. In much of the European and American world it has worked out so that GDP grew. The money flowed to the upper classes. The efficiencies that were created left an awful lot of jobless and so the assumption that free trade is always beneficial, well the benefits may never be for this generation or even their children. So in this part, what we are really seeing is a questioning of what was the orthodoxy since World War II and this is a reasonable thing to do… Those who want to oppose any questioning of free trade want to paint these people as kind of cave men, but its a perfectly reasonable question to ask… What is unhealthy about the Europeans is that it’s not just a free trade issue, it’s an issue of governance. Who governs the internal affairs of the various countries? The good thing about us is we never went that route. This is a pure free trade agreement. The Canadians govern themselves as they want. Washington has nothing to do with that. Mexico governs themselves as they want. We are sovereign independent countries and what you are seeing is sovereign independent countries looking at their electorates, listening to what they are saying, and trying to adjust this deal accordingly. This is called democracy and it’s called national self-determination which we all support. So my view is that we had overplayed the multilateralism. We had overplayed the free trade concept. It had unfortunate effects and now the system is correcting it.”
With regard to China, TPP, and the potential for a Chinese-Mexican trade deal:
“Well we use the term trade. Let’s use exports and imports. China is a net exporter. So are all the other countries of TPP. In Europe, Germany is a net exporter and so is every country. The advantage of NAFTA is that the United States is a net importer. So free trade with China, for Canada for example, would mean a massive inflow of goods into Canada. How much the Chinese would buy from Canada is an open question. The reason that the US pulling out of TPP doesn’t leave China in a powerful position is that China, in the end, exports way more than it imports. Vietnam exports way more than it imports. All these countries are massive exporters. So a free trade coalition of exporters has all the competitors sitting in one room. Who is the customer?”
There is the more to the interview so enjoy it here:
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