Biden said Thursday during an interview with CNN that then-President George H. W. Bush promised enforcement mechanisms but the mechanisms weren’t put into place.
“That’s why, after it passed, and he did not insist on that, I was against NAFTA and we tried to begin to change it, because it didn’t keep the deal that was made,” he said.
NAFTA was signed into law in late 1993 and took effect on Jan. 1, 1994, following passage by a Congress that included Biden, a senator at the time. The trade pact removed most restrictions between the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
The law has been blamed for the movement of hundreds of thousands of jobs from the United States to other countries, primarily Mexico.
Both Biden and former President Barack Obama promised to renegotiate NAFTA but it wasn’t redone until President Donald Trump took office.
Trump signed the new trade agreement, known as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), on Jan. 29.
Biden acknowledged the renegotiated trade deal but pointed to the House of Representatives reworking some of the legislation before passing it, calling it “a big deal.”
“Here’s what they amended. He was giving pharma a way out, giving them a gigantic break, just like he’s doing now with pharma. If they are building plants overseas and getting tax breaks for it. That’s what it was about with him,” Biden said.
The Democrat blamed the lack of an update to NAFTA during the eight years he and Obama were in the White House on the Republican-controlled Congress.
USMCA “is better than NAFTA, but look what the overall trade policy has done, even with NAFTA,” Biden said.
“We now have this gigantic deficit in trade with Mexico, not because NAFTA wasn’t made better, because his overall trade policy and how he deals with it made everything worse,” he added.
Biden and Trump are trying to portray themselves as strong on trade and returning jobs to America to win key votes in the Midwest. Both traveled to Michigan this week to make their case to voters.
Biden said Tuesday in Warren that he would impose a tax penalty on companies that offshore jobs and manufacturing.
“If your big corporate strategy is to boost your shareholders’ profits, your CEO’s bonuses by moving jobs out, well, we’re going to make sure you not only pay full U.S. taxes on those profits, but we’re going to guarantee, we’re going to add a 10 percent offshoring penalty surtax to your bill,” he said.
Trump told rallygoers in Freeland Thursday that Biden “is starting to do very well lying about his lifetime of cold hearted globalist betrayals.”
“Biden championed NAFTA, perhaps the worst trade deal in the history of our country. He continued to embrace and promote NAFTA for decades,” he said, adding: “I told you, he just said it was not as good as the deal I made.”