The revised version of the North American Free Trade Agreement is proof not that tariffs work, but rather that trade between friendly nations works, former Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday.
Kerry was on CNBC's "Closing Bell" and talked about the deal President Donald Trump announced in a White House press conference. Trump vowed to sign the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement by late November.
"I think it's evidence that trade works and that trade agreements can be reached, period, because countries want them and need them," Kerry said. "Ninety-five percent of the customers in the world are outside of the United States, so we need them too."
Trump has pushed back on NAFTA since his presidential campaign. After renegotiating a trade deal with Mexico, Trump's team was able to work out an agreement with Canada that will ultimately replace NAFTA and allow the three North American countries to continue as trading partners.
Kerry said the tariffs and threats of tariffs from the White House caused "dislocations" that must be repaired.
"There are ways to get to an agreement that may not have done quite so much damage … and created some of the dislocations we are going to have to live with for a while," Kerry said.
As for China, another Trump foe when it comes to trade, Kerry said the U.S. must remain steadfast in dealing with the communist nation.
"No question that a tough stance is required with China and is merited," Kerry said. "I don't think the Chinese will move quite as quickly, personally. It is absolutely merited to be tough."
Kerry also touched on the discussions he has had with Iranian officials after he left office. Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Iran nuclear deal earlier this year, a decision that riled up Kerry — who spent roughly half of his four-year term leading the State Department working on the agreement.
"I had a long conversation [with current Secretary of State Mike Pompeo] and explained to him my point of view and what I thought was a better approach," Kerry told CNBC. "Since the administration has pulled out [of the Iran deal], I've made no effort to talk to anybody from Iran about this agreement."
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