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Washington • Sen. Orrin Hatch sees the North American Free Trade Agreement as a "strong anchor" for the markets in the United States, Mexico and Canada a starkly different view from President Donald Trump, who calls it "a catastrophe."
But the two political allies, who attended a White House meeting Thursday with top congressional officials overseeing trade legislation, agreed on one thing: NAFTA needs to be reworked.
Trump kept up the criticism he used on the campaign trail, saying NAFTA "has been a catastrophe for our country. It's been a catastrophe for our jobs and our country."
Hatch, a Utah Republican and strong Trump backer, said in a statement after the meeting that "NAFTA has served as a strong anchor for our markets in the northern hemisphere and helped to expand trade opportunities for American products, goods, and services."
Hatch, as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, would be involved in any rewrite of NAFTA and other trade deals. He said Thursday that he welcomed the chance to talk to Trump about a path forward on trade deals and that NAFTA should be re-worked.
"Given that the trade pact is now more than two decades old, a re-examination of the agreement to ensure it remains the best possible deal for American workers and entrepreneurs in the 21st century global economy makes sense," Hatch said.
Trump, who has blasted current trade deals and opposed a pending deal with 12 nations in the Pacific Rim, praised the "all-star team" of people working on trade and that NAFTA was a big target.
"I want to change it and maybe we do it and maybe we do a new NAFTA and we add an extra f in NAFTA" to add the word "fair," Trump said. "I don't care if it's a renovation of NAFTA or a brand new NAFTA but we do have to make it fair and it's [currently] very unfair to the American worker and very very unfair to companies ... in this country."