Building the Trade Wall to Mexico: What NAFTA, Brexit, and TPP Mean for the Future of U.S. Trade

43 Pages Posted: 5 Feb 2017

See all articles by Blake Brookshire

Blake Brookshire

University of Mississippi, School of Law

Date Written: February 1, 2017


The recent election of President Donald Trump calls into question the United States’ future in international trade. During Trump’s campaign for office, he promised to attempt to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and, if negotiations fail, withdraw from the agreement. While elections often invite isolationist rhetoric, such a policy would be a departure from the policies of the last five decades. Withdrawal from NAFTA would create significant uncertainty for the future of North American trade, not only for U.S. companies but especially for the U.S.’s role in the negotiation of future trade agreements.

This Article is the first to examine the possible effects of U.S. withdrawing from NAFTA, drawing conclusions from the United Kingdom’s “Brexit” experience. While the European Union’s customs union operates differently than a free trade agreement, both U.S. protectionist sentiment and Brexit stem from the same ideological fears, namely immigration. The central claim of this Article is that NAFTA has ultimately benefited the U.S., and, while improvements can be made, U.S. withdrawal from NAFTA will harm the American economy, not help it.

Instead, the United States must pursue further trade agreements, similar to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). This Article argues that although Donald Trump has officially withdrawn from TPP, the agreement should act as a template to build future trade agreements. As the future of the United States’ international trade policy remains uncertain, the most sensible path lies in more trade agreements in the future, not less.

Keywords: Donald Trump, Trump, NAFTA, N.A.F.T.A., TPP, Brexit, European Union, EU, Trans-Pacific Partnership, President Donald Trump, President Trump, International Trade, Policy, International Trade Policy, Free Trade Agreements, Free Trade

Suggested Citation

Brookshire, Blake, Building the Trade Wall to Mexico: What NAFTA, Brexit, and TPP Mean for the Future of U.S. Trade (February 1, 2017). Available at SSRN: or

Blake Brookshire (Contact Author)

University of Mississippi, School of Law ( email )

MS 38677
United States

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