U.S. lawmakers launch push to repeal NAFTA

Thu Mar 4, 2010 4:35pm EST
 
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By Doug Palmer

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A small group of U.S. lawmakers unveiled legislation on Thursday to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement in the latest sign of congressional disillusionment with free-trade deals.

The bill spearheaded by Rep. Gene Taylor, a Mississippi Democrat, would require President Barack Obama to give Mexico and Canada six months notice that the United States will no longer be part of the 16-year-old trade pact.

"At a time when 10 to 12 percent of the American people are unemployed, I think Congress has an obligation to put people back to work," Taylor said.

He argued NAFTA has cost the United States millions of manufacturing jobs and hurt national security by encouraging companies to move production to Mexico.

The high unemployment rate makes it the "perfect" time to push for repeal even though past efforts have failed, he said.

"You'll see the American people rally behind this, in my humble opinion," said Rep. Walter Jones, a North Carolina Republican who is one of about 28 co-sponsors of the bill.

Business groups like the National Association of Manufacturers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce strongly support NAFTA, which they say has spurred U.S. economic growth by tearing down trade barriers between the three countries.

The repeal proposal comes as Obama says he wants to resolve problems blocking congressional approval of long-delayed trade deals with South Korea, Panama and Colombia.   Continued...