President Donald Trump told voters he would work to make the trade policies in the United States fairer for workers.
During his campaign he said the North American Free Trade Agreement, known as NAFTA, was the “worst trade deal maybe ever signed anywhere, but certainly ever signed in this country.”
Two days after taking office, Trump promised to renegotiate the 23-year-old trade agreement between Mexico, Canada and the U.S.
That came after he signed an executive order to withdraw the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Former president Barack Obama supported the trade deal, known as the TPP. The agreement was designed to make trade easier between 12 nations, including Vietnam, Japan, Malaysia and New Zealand.
VOA visited with two people affected by these trade agreements in the Midwestern state of Illinois.
One is farmer Wendell Shauman. Another is former factory worker George Carney.
Shauman first spoke with VOA in 2015 before Trump became the Republican Party’s candidate.
At that time, he said the U.S. would be “better off” with more free trade agreements. He was especially interested in the TPP.
The agreement would have given American farmers the ability to sell meat from cows and pigs to consumers in Japan.
The new market would have increased the need for corn and soybeans those animals eat. That in turn would have helped farmers like Shauman, who grow those crops, earn more money.
Tamara Nelsen is the Senior Director of Commodities for the Illinois Farm Bureau. She said opening markets like Japan to U.S. farmers might have boosted the price of corn and soybeans by up to 10 percent.
Trump’s decision to withdraw from the TPP will hurt the incomes of Shauman and other farmers in the U.S.
“That’s going to be disappointing,” Nelsen said.
Shauman may disagree with the president’s position on the TPP, but he voted for him anyway. He said his support for Trump went beyond profits.
“We’re conservative people. We think government is too big. We’ve got too many regulations. We could only see more of them coming from Hillary. We could see a liberal Supreme Court which is already giving us trouble. A lot of rules and regulations that we fight end up going to the Supreme Court.”
Just about 30 minutes from Shauman’s farm is a former Maytag company factory. The workers there built refrigerators. George Carney was one of those workers for more than 20 years.
But in 2004, Maytag moved the factory to Mexico. Carney and many of his friends lost their jobs. He has since struggled to find steady work.
Carney blames NAFTA for his employment problems. He also opposes the TPP.
While he did not vote for Trump, and thinks the president speaks like a “babbling buffoon” sometimes, Carney said Trump is doing a good job so far.
“I could see myself voting for him next time,” he said.
Shauman also has his criticisms of Trump’s behavior sometimes. But, he says, he might vote for him again.
“Yeah, sometimes it’s frustrating. Sometimes it’s embarrassing. Sometimes … I’ve literally said, ‘why don’t you just grow up?’ But he’s the president and we’re going to live with him for four years, and we’ll see where this ride goes.”
I’m Dan Friedell.
Kane Farabaugh wrote this story for VOANews. Dan Friedell adapted it for Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.
What do you think about President Trump’s plans to leave the trade agreements? We want to know. Write to us in the Comments Section or on 51VOA.COM.
Words in This Story
executive order– n. an order that comes from the U.S. President or a government agency and must be obeyed like a law
commodity – n. something that is bought and sold
babble – v. to talk foolishly or too much
buffoon – n. a stupid or foolish person who tries to be funny