Starting today President Bush is hosting the North American Leaders’ Summit summit in New Orleans with Mexican President Felipe Calderon and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Meanwhile the two remaining Democratic presidential candidates are campaigning in Pennsylvania, a state where both have made promises they would renegotiate NAFTA to better protect Keystone state workers. Contrary to liberal protectionist rhetoric, not only has NAFTA benefited Pennsylvanians, but unilaterally changing NAFTA’s terms would be an economic and foreign policy disaster. The Washington Post wrote in their feature 5 Myths About NAFTA:
3 “Fixing” NAFTA would be easy and cost-free. Not so. Any changes would require a lengthy and complex renegotiation with Canada and Mexico. As Canada’s prime minister, Stephen Harper, has pointed out, “Of course, if any American government ever chose to make the mistake of opening [NAFTA], we would have some things we would want to talk about as well.” Just the threat of pulling out of NAFTA would do some damage, too. Far from boosting America’s international reputation — something all presidential candidates agree is important — it would fan fears that the United States is an unreliable ally and discourage foreign governments from committing to future agreements with Washington. The slim chance of concluding the World Trade Organization’s Doha round of global trade talks would vanish. And if the next president wants, for instance, Mexico’s help in dealing with immigration reform and Canada’s hand in combating terrorism, then blaming America’s friendly neighbors for its perceived woes is hardly the way to start.