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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

Surprising pandemic side effect: Soaring trade deficits

Source: Census Bureau and Bureau of Economic Analysis; Chart: Axios Visuals

Inflation and jobs may get all the economic headlines, but meanwhile a big shift is taking place in the underpinnings of the world economy: The U.S. trade deficit is soaring.

What's happening: Americans' spending on imported physical goods has gone through the roof, while exports are growing slowly, making the U.S. the world's consumer of last resort.

Mike Allen, author of AM
2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Third Way: "Big Lie" could become "Big Coup"

Graphic: Third Way

Third Way, the center-left think tank, is urging fellow Democrats to respond to the Capitol riot with "the size, scope, and seriousness of a presidential campaign," co-founder Matt Bennett tells me.

Driving the news: "For the first time in U.S. history, a party must mount two parallel presidential campaigns: one to win the election, and the other to prevent its theft," Bennett said, calling this "a Paul Revere moment."

Advocates say Biden has let Haitian migrants down

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photos: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, Christian Torres/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Continued turmoil in Haiti is causing a growing number of Haitians to try to make it to American shores — and some advocates say the Biden administration isn't supporting this community in its time of crisis.

The big picture: Haitian-American activists in South Florida told Axios Today they feel like President Biden has gone back on campaign promises he made to the community to stand up for them.