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Keep, improve NAFTA

One of Donald Trump’s many campaign promises was that he would renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement to get a better deal for the United States.

The U.S., Canada and Mexico began formal negotiations last week. Canadian and Mexican negotiators agree that the deal needs to be updated but, unlike Trump, they see the agreement as a success story.

Speaking at a rally in Arizona this week, Trump indicated that he thinks the U.S. will end the agreement rather than updating it. “Personally, I don’t think we can make a deal because we have been so badly taken advantage of,” he said.

A new analysis by Business Roundtable shows just how big an impact NAFTA has had on New York’s economy.

The analysis shows that 836,600 New York jobs were supported by U.S. trade with Canada and Mexico in 2014. In 2015, New York exported $22 billion in goods and services to those two countries.

Some industries have been particularly reliant on trade with Canada and Mexico. In 2015, our two neighbors received 93 percent ($210 million) of all motor vehicle body and trailer exports; 91 percent ($665 million) of all aluminum exports; and 84 percent ($186 million) of all preserves and specialty foods exports.

“The numbers make it clear that New York workers and businesses have benefited from NAFTA,” said Tom Linebarger, chairman and chief executive officer of Cummins Inc. and chair of the Business Roundtable International Engagement Committee. “Successful negotiations should expand on, and not diminish, the many benefits NAFTA already provides.”

In May, Business Roundtable, an association of chief executive officers of leading U.S. companies that employ nearly 15 million people, sent a letter to the Trump administration detailing provisions they would like to see included to strengthen NAFTA.

Hopefully, in seeking a “win” on NAFTA, Trump doesn’t ignore the advice of smart business leaders or the importance the agreement has for many businesses in New York and elsewhere in the country.

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