The North American Free Trade Agreement (“NAFTA”) entered into force on January 1, 1994.  NAFTA is 24 years old. Will NAFTA make it to its 25th birthday?  President Trump is threatening to trigger Article 2205 of NAFTA, which provides that:

“A Party may withdraw from this Agreement six months after it provides written notice of withdrawal to the other Parties.  If a Party withdraws, the Agreement shall remain in force for the remaining Parties.”

To date, President Trump has not provided Canada and Mexico with the formal written notice of intention to withdraw from NAFTA.  What this means is that it is both possible and not possible that NAFTA will make it to the 25 year mark.  Let’s call this “Schrodinger’s NAFTA” paradox.

An important question is who sends Canada the written notice? Is it the President Trump, the United States Trade Representative of Congress?

An equally important question is whether President Trump wants NAFTA to be a central issue in the 2018 mid-term elections to be held on November 6, 2018? In the 2018 mid-term elections the following will be up for election:

  • All 435 seats in the U.S. Congress;
  • 33 of the 100 seats in the U.S. Senate; and
  • 39 state/territorial governorships.

If President Trump takes formal steps to withdraw from NAFTA today (January 1, 2018), the formal withdrawal would take place on July 1, 2018 (after 6 months). Most certainly many of the mid-term election debates would be held after July 1, 2018 and there will be plenty of discussion about the negative effects the withdrawal from NAFTA.