Jonah Goldberg: Trump Mexico tariff threat could 'scuttle' planned replacement of NAFTA

President Trump's tariff threat against Mexico could complicate plans to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement, according to columnist Jonah Goldberg.

Trump's plan to impose escalating tariffs on all Mexican imports - unless the country stems the flow of illegal immigrants - could "scuttle" the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), Goldberg said Tuesday on "Special Report."

The Trump administration negotiated with Canadian and Mexican officials in hopes of replacing NAFTA with the USMCA.


"At this very moment, President Trump actually has no serious trade agreements signed - there's one thing with South Korea," Goldberg said. "But he has this basically rehashing of NAFTA that is on the books coming up and it looks like [the tariff threat] could scuttle it."

"Meanwhile we are trying to do these trade negotiations with China, which is the other trading partner that makes lots of cheap stuff."

Goldberg said tariffs being placed on imports from both Mexico and China will hamper American businesses that rely on products manufactured abroad.

"Now we are saying we are also going to make stuff from Mexico really expensive too, which puts a double-squeeze on our businesses here at home," he said.


Goldberg said he believed that development is the reason top Republican senators like Sens. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Pat Toomey, R-Pa., have been critical of the new tariff plan.

"It's why this is the first time you've seen Republican senators to a person stand up to the president, because it is terrible for the economies of a lot of these states," Goldberg, an American Enterprise Institute fellow, said.

"Trade policy and border security are separate issues," Grassley said last week.

Toomey said in a statement tariffs are a "dangerous and risky economic tool."

"They raise the cost of products for American families, reduce market share abroad for U.S. exporters and make our economy less competitive globally. History has shown us time and again that nobody wins a trade war," the Pennsylvania lawmaker added.