November 13, 2016 11:00 am

Republican Congress will protect NAFTA: former governor, White House aide

Former republican governor of Mississippi Haley Barbour tells Tom Clark he believes congress will not rip up NAFTA because Canada is a good trading partner.


Despite President-elect Donald Trump’s tough talk on NAFTA, the triparty trade agreement will be safe, says one former governor and White House aide.

One pillar of Trump’s presidential campaign was to either re-negotiate or completely withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement, the 1994 trade deal between Canada, Mexico and the United States he’s described as a “job killer” and “the worst trade deal in history.”

WATCH: Trudeau, Trump have had talks about renegotiating NAFTA

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But there likely won’t be much of an appetite in Congress for killing the deal, said Haley Barbour, former Mississippi governor, former chairman of the Republican National Committee and a once-political aide to President Ronald Regan.

READ MORE: Ambassador to US says Canada ready to discuss NAFTA with Donald Trump

“I just don’t believe that Congress in either party would do that,” he told The West Block’s Tom Clark. “The relationship between our two countries is so close that we effectively have open borders, and American people are totally comfortable with that.

“So I don’t see the trade relationship and the general economic relationship between your country and my country changing. I really don’t.”

Although Barbour eventually threw his support behind Trump, he had initially expressed concerns about some of the Republican nominee’s policy planks.

READ MORE: Could Donald Trump pull the plug on NAFTA? It’s not as easy as he says

The hesitance to back Trump wasn’t a consequence so much of disagreeing on some issues, Barbour said.

“Part of it was I though the campaign that they ran was too focused on the base and not trying enough to increase the supporters, which he ultimately did,” the former governor said.

But he’s not holding out hope Trump will abandon the ideas he presented on the campaign trail – including building a wall at the Mexican border and ripping up trade deals.

“I don’t think his ideas will change. They may be smoothed out some, as always is the case,” Barbour said. “But I think Donald Trump wants to get things done so he wants to work with Congress and, in my opinion, Congress wants to work with him.”

One day after the American election, Canada’s ambassador to the United States said Canada is ready to talk about NAFTA. David MacNaughton said Canadian officials believe the agreement, as it stands, has benefited all three countries, but that everything has room for improvement.

WATCH: In this extended interview with former republican governor Haley Barbour he tells Tom Clark President-elect Donald Trump wants to get things done and the republican majority in the congress will want to work with him to move America forward.

With a file from The Canadian Press

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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