President Trump really isn’t a fan of free trade. On his first full day in office, Trump shredded the Trans-Pacific Partnership – the largest trade agreement in history, which took more than five years to negotiate, encompassed 40 percent of global GDP and would have given the U.S. a powerful bulwark against China’s economic rise in the region. Trump also threatened to impose a 45 percent tariff on China during the campaign – a move that would have made Chinese goods much more expensive for American consumers. Trade between the U.S. and China was just under $600 billion in 2015.

Now Trump is back astride one of his favorite hobby horses – attacking the “total disaster” and “worst trade deal maybe ever signed anywhere, but certainly ever signed in this country,” the North American Free Trade Agreement.

While most people recognize that NAFTA needs to be updated – it’s almost a quarter of a century old, after all – Trump’s claim that it has been disastrous for the U.S. economy is ludicrous. Since NAFTA was signed, trade between the U.S., Mexico and Canada has more than tripled. The agreement created a $19 trillion regional market supported by 470 million consumers, and the United States’ two largest export markets are Canada and Mexico (accounting for around one-third of American exports). …

NAFTA has had a particularly dramatic impact on American farmers and ranchers – since the implementation of the agreement, agricultural exports to Mexico and Canada have increased by 289 percent and 265 percent, respectively. This is why it’s no surprise that Sen. Pat Roberts is challenging Trump’s dishonesty about NAFTA: … “We must commit to challenge this view, set the record straight, and explain what is at stake. These issues affect real jobs and real lives.”

Since the campaign, Trump has been promising to renegotiate NAFTA and “terminate” it if the U.S. doesn’t get a “much better deal.” … He cites the United States’ trade deficits with each country and constantly complains about lost jobs.

But he fails to mention the jobs that have been created due to the drastically increased economic activity between the U.S. and its neighbors. …

As Roberts noted, there are “real jobs and real lives” in the balance here. Trump should remember it.

— The Topeka Capital-Journal