The new agriculture secretary helped convince President Donald Trump to stay in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) days after taking office, by showing him how many jobs would be lost in states that voted for him, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Trump’s new Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, who took office Tuesday, and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross showed the president a map of all the areas that would be affected if NAFTA ended, which included many of the rural counties that voted for Trump in the 2016 election.
“I was all set to terminate,” Trump said Thursday, but changed his mind shortly after looking at the map. Trump said on April 18, “NAFTA has been very, very bad for our country,” during a speech in Kenosha, Wisc.
After Trump met the leaders of Canada and Mexico Wednesday, he announced that the U.S. will attempt to renegotiate NAFTA rather than leave the trade agreement entirely. (RELATED: Trump Tells Mexico And Canada He Will Not Terminate NAFTA After All)
Perdue, Ross and other advisors were able to convince Trump that farmers and businesses in the heartland depend on exports to sell their products, and ending NAFTA could harm their livelihood. (RELATED: Farmers Are Really Freaked About Trump’s Plan To Kill NAFTA)
“It shows that I do have a very big farmer base, which is good,” Trump told the Washington Post. “They like Trump, but I like them, and I’m going to help them.”
Both countries are “serious about it and I will negotiate rather than terminate,” Trump told WSJ Thursday.
After months of criticizing America’s NAFTA partners, saying the deal has been better for Mexico and Canada than U.S. workers and businesses, Trump downplayed the significance of his decision to stay in NAFTA.
“Hey, I’m a nationalist and a globalist,” Trump said. “I’m both. And I’m the only one who makes the decision, believe me.”
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