On NAFTA and Mexico, Trump Faces a Balancing Act

2/22/2017 U.S. News & World Report

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via AP – Dario Lopez-Mills

President George W. Bush’s former commerce secretary acknowledged Wednesday that the North American Free Trade Agreement “should be updated,” but said that abandoning the deal entirely and antagonizing Mexico may amount to a temporary “tactical victory” that down the road would be remembered as a “strategic defeat.”

Carlos Gutierrez, who opened a panel discussion Wednesday hosted by the Atlantic Council in Washington, avoided criticizing President Donald Trump’s administration directly. But the onetime CEO of the Kellogg Co. warned that hard-line approaches to NAFTA and to America’s broader relationship with Mexico have elicited “anxiety” and anti-U.S. sentiment from America’s southern neighbor.

“I think what we need to understand – and I trust that our government here in the U.S. will understand this – we cannot humiliate a country to the bargaining table,” Gutierrez said. “Maybe in business you can, because it’s all about the bottom line. But you can’t quantify national pride. You can’t quantify national dignity, and that’s what’s at stake here. It’s going to be extremely difficult for Mexico to do anything but take a combative response.”

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