President Donald Trump disagreed with executives of major oil and gas companies Thursday about the importance of keeping binding dispute settlement procedures in a renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement, according to a person familiar with the discussion.
Trump told roughly a dozen of the oil and gas industry leaders at a White House meeting that he understood — but did not share — their view that those Nafta provisions are essential to give companies confidence to invest in Mexico and Canada, said the person, who asked not to be identified describing the closed-door session.
That position puts the president in league with American Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, who has signaled he doesn’t support continuing to subject the U.S. to the investor-state dispute settlement provisions in Nafta that empower businesses to challenge other countries for discrimination.
The issue has emerged as a major point of friction between the Trump administration and business interests. The Chamber of Commerce, American Petroleum Institute and other groups have argued that the dispute-resolution provisions provide a critical safety net for U.S. companies operating in Canada and Mexico.