Oct 26, 2017

Trump has no interest in NAFTA concessions, says top official

Photo: Evan Vucci/AP

A top Trump administration official made the US pro-trade community despair — again. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross declared that President Trump had no interest in giving a single meaningful concession in the NAFTA talks with Canada and Mexico.

"We're asking two countries to give up some privileges that they have enjoyed for 22 years," Ross told CNBC's Becky Quick on Wednesday. "And we are not in a position to offer anything in return."

Why this may not matter: Ross could be simply bluffing.

Why this may matter a lot: It could be real — that is, Ross could be accurately reflecting Trump's view of the NAFTA talks. So far, the Trump administration has matched its hardline and inflexible public rhetoric with completely inflexible negotiations behind the scenes with the Canadians and Mexicans. Sources who've spoken to Robert Lighthizer say Trump's top trade negotiator is unyielding: Trump wants what Trump wants. And there's no room for compromise.

Bottom line: The NAFTA talks are frozen and the deal's future looks very dicey. Or as one former top trade official on Capitol Hill put it to me after the Ross interview: "No wonder the negotiations aren't going well. They're not actually negotiations."

Go deeper

In photos: Protests over George Floyd's death grip Minneapolis

The Third Police Precinct burns in Minneapolis on Thursday night. Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Demonstrators demanding justice burned a Minneapolis police station and took control of the streets around it last night, heaving wood onto the flames, kicking down poles with surveillance cameras and torching surrounding stores.

What's happening: The crowd was protesting the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man whose life was snuffed out Tuesday by a white Minneapolis police officer who kneeled on his neck for about eight minutes.

Minneapolis mayor to Trump: “Weakness is pointing your finger” during a crisis

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey fired back at President Trump on Friday, after the president accused the mayor of weak leadership amid violence sparked by the killing of an unarmed black man by a white police officer.

Driving the news: Trump made his accusations in a pair of tweets early Friday, saying he would bring the national guard into Minneapolis if Frey couldn't “bring the City under control.” 

Updated 55 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 a.m. ET: 5,844,499 — Total deaths: 361,066 — Total recoveries — 2,439,310Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 a.m. ET: 1,721,926 — Total deaths: 101,621 — Total recoveries: 399,991 — Total tested: 15,646,041Map.
  3. Public health: Hydroxychloroquine prescription fills exploded in March —How the U.S. might distribute a coronavirus vaccine once we have one.
  4. Business: Many poor and minority families can't afford food or rent.
  5. 2020: Trump courts Asian American vote amid coronavirus — The RNC issued proposed safety guidelines for its planned convention in Charlotte.
  6. ⚽️ Sports: European soccer's push to return.
  7. What should I do? When you can be around others after contracting the coronavirus — Traveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.