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Photo: Alex Brandon / AP

The Trump administration will present controversial proposals for NAFTA negotiations that are expected to attract vehement opposition from Congress, large sections of the U.S. business community and leaders in Canada and Mexico, according to sources with knowledge of the arrangements.

Why this matters: Trade experts on and off Capitol Hill are worried that the Trump demands — which many on the Hill regard as unreasonable and inflexible — will torpedo the NAFTA negotiations and will ultimately give Trump the justification he's been searching for to withdraw.

The proposals come as the Trump administration — led by chief trade negotiator Robert Lighthizer — enters the fourth round of NAFTA negotiations with Canada and Mexico, which begins Wednesday. A senior congressional aide said the administration is pushing to include the following issues, which are troublesome to large sections of Congress and the business community:

  • Auto rules of origin: Requiring very high percentages of car parts and materials to be made by the NAFTA countries, and a certain percentage to come from the United States in order for automobile manufacturers to benefit from NAFTA.
  • Five-year sunset: This would mean that every five years the parties to the agreement — the U.S., Canada, and Mexico — would have to restate their willingness to continue the agreement, creating a virtual cliff every five years, which would be vulnerable to political shifts. A top trade lawyer in Washington described this proposal as "lunacy," saying it would discourage investors from building in North America on the expectation of NAFTA benefits.
  • ISDS (Investor State Dispute Settlement): The Trump administration wants to seriously undermine the ability of private companies to take legal action when foreign governments' moves devalue their investments in that foreign country. U.S. companies that do business abroad are worried that if Trump makes ISDS an opt-in system it will do two things: diminish the value of their investments in Canada and Mexico; and, more importantly, create a precedent to devalue investor protections around the world.
  • Dispute settlement: The Trump administration wants to make changes to the dispute settlement system between the NAFTA parties that the business community is expected to find troublesome.

Bottom line: Although these are just opening bids, many trade experts worry that Trump and Lighthizer are being so aggressive and unreasonable that Canada or Mexico will see no choice but to walk away.

Be smart: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Farm Bureau have each launched campaigns to pressure Trump to save NAFTA — an indication of how concerned the business community is about the deal.

When Axios shared this reporting with White House officials they declined to comment.

Go deeper

Democrat Mark Kelly sworn in to U.S. Senate

Photo: Courtney Pedroza/Getty Images

Astronaut Mark Kelly (D) was sworn in to the U.S. Senate on Wednesday after defeating incumbent Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) last month for the seat once held by the late Sen. John McCain.

Why it matters: Kelly's swearing-in by Vice President Mike Pence narrows the Republican majority and moves the Senate balance to 52-48.

Senate Armed Services chair dismisses Trump threat to veto defense bill

Sen. Jim Inhofe. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told reporters Wednesday that he plans to move ahead with a crucial defense-spending bill without provisions that would eliminate tech industry protections, defying a veto threat from President Trump.

Why it matters: Inhofe's public rebuke signals that the Senate could have enough Republican backing to override a potential veto from Trump, who has demanded that the $740 billion National Defense Authorization Act repeal Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

Scoop: Uber in talks to sell air taxi business to Joby

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Uber is in advanced talks to sell its Uber Elevate unit to Joby Aviation, Axios has learned from multiple sources. A deal could be announced later this month.

Between the lines: Uber Elevate was formed to develop a network of self-driving air taxis, but to date has been most notable for its annual conference devoted to the nascent industry.