Presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris said she would not have voted for the North American Free Trade Agreement, the 1994 deal drawing sharp divisions on trade philosophy among candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination.
“I would not have voted for NAFTA, because I believe that we can do a better job to protect American workers,” the California Democrat told CNN’s Jake Tapper in an interview that aired Sunday on “State of the Union.”
Views on trade agreements and President Donald Trump’s tariffs have emerged as a point of stark contrast between free trade advocates and candidates who support more protectionist policies in the 2020 Democratic primary field.
“I believe that there is no question that, over many decades, the rules have been written in a way that have been to the exclusion of lifting up the middle class and working people in America and working families in America,” Harris said, also pointing to her plan for a middle class tax credit. “I believe that we have got to have policy that better protects American workers and American industries.”
Harris also opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership – a trade deal with several Asian nations negotiated under former President Barack Obama – in her 2016 Senate run, and has expressed concern over Trump’s escalating tariffs on Chinese exports.
“This president and this administration have failed to understand that we are stronger when we work with our allies on every issue … meaning working with our allies to address China, in terms of the threat that it presents to our economy, the threat it presents to American workers and American industries,” Harris said.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has latched onto NAFTA as a line of attack against former Vice President Joe Biden.
“I helped lead the fight against NAFTA. He voted for NAFTA,” Sanders said last month.
Trump has repeatedly slammed NAFTA as a “horrible” deal for the United States. He negotiated a replacement pact, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, and signed it in November 2018. It has yet to be approved by Congress.