Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Quitting And Diplomacy in US-Mexico Relations

Mexico's Minister of the Economy, Ildefonso Guajardo, gave an interview to talk about the NAFTA negotiations. Part of it was to say there would not be an agreement before Thursday as Paul Ryan demanded if he was going to be able to get Congress to vote on it this year.

But another part of it is deeper and more indicative of the Trump administration's entire approach to negotiations anywhere in the world. Guajardo was unhappy about the U.S. insistence on a sunset clause, through which any of the countries could simply pull out after a five year period. His point was that you cannot ask businesses to change their models when they have only a five year guarantee of it functioning.

The idea of quitting agreements seems now to be a hallmark of the administration, but it does not offer anything concrete in their place. The Iran deal and the Trans-Pacific Partnership are of course two other major examples. With the TPP, Trump suddenly did a semi about-face that just left everyone more confused. The administration claimed it had a deal with Brazil on tariffs, but Brazil disagreed.

If you cannot commit to anything and in fact try to strike deals that allow you to leave them quickly, then you foster uncertainty and distrust. Why would North Korea accept any binding deal with the United States after watching it pull out of the Iran deal? There is no reason for North Korea to conceded anything. At this point the United States is acting like it does not trust its own negotiations so that it will not commit to sticking to them.


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