One of President Donald Trump’s favorite subjects for praise – the Texas oil industry – is urging him to back off his hard-line stance on the North American Free Trade Agreement.
The Texas Alliance of Energy Producers, which represents oil companies across Texas, passed a resolution this week urging Trump not to raise tariffs on Mexico and Canada, so as “to foster the expansion of unfettered energy trade and investment.”
“NAFTA is important to Texas, and if renegotiated, its impact on our markets for oil and gas needs to remain positive and profitable,” Bob Osborne, chairman of the energy alliance, said.
The energy alliance is also asking Trump to keep NAFTA as is should negotiations break down and not to seek a resolution putting an expiration date on the pact.
The plea comes as talks continue to renegotiate the more than two-decade old trade pact, which lifted tariffs on goods moving between the three nations. Last month, Canadian officials, along with some U.S. congressmen, expressed concern Trump would pull the United States from NAFTA.
But following talks in Montreal last week, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday he didn’t believe Trump would pull out because of the potential damage to U.S. workers.
“I’m confident that the president is going to see that and choose to not terminate because it’s not in his or Americans’ best interests to walk away from NAFTA,” he said.
The stakes are especially high for oil and gas companies operating in Texas, which have watched gas exports to Mexico increase more than five-fold since 2010, according to the energy alliance.
At the same time, refineries along the Gulf Coast rely on a steady stream of crude from Western Canada.
“The heavier grades of crude oil imported to the U.S. from Canada are a necessary part of the U.S. oil supply mix,” said John Tintera, president of the energy alliance. “Many U.S. refineries were built to handle those grades, and require heavy crude to make several vital consumer products.”