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Ahead of NAFTA talks, a major Hispanic business leader says don't rip up the deal

Key Points
  • The U.S., Canada and Mexico begin talks on revising NAFTA on Wednesday.
  • Tearing up NAFTA "makes no sense whatsoever," U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce chief Javier Palomarez tells CNBC.
What's at stake in NAFTA talks...

President Donald Trump must "level the playing field" on new NAFTA negotiations, the head of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce told CNBC on Tuesday.

"We don't believe, we never have, that NAFTA should be torn up and thrown out. That makes no sense whatsoever," Javier Palomarez said on "Squawk Box."

Palomarez, a Democrat, spoke a day before the U.S., Canada and Mexico begin talks on revising the North American Free Trade Agreement. Trade among the three nations has quadrupled since NAFTA came into effect in 1994, surpassing $1 trillion in 2015.

"We are very focused on the notion that Canada and Mexico are our number 1 and number 3 trade partners, and we should treat them accordingly," said Palomarez, whose organization represents 4.5 million Hispanic-owned businesses that contribute a combined $668 billion to the U.S. economy annually.

President Donald Trump has threatened to pull out of the agreement if he can't get a better deal for U.S. workers, citing lost manufacturing jobs. Canada and Mexico have said they are open to changing the deal.

In June, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said renegotiating NAFTA could spill into next year.

Palomarez said some members of Trump's Cabinet understand that the agreement benefits the United States. He hopes those voices will "win out."

Palomarez also said there appears to be a lack of understanding by some Americans on how the U.S. interacts with foreign nations.

"The average American doesn't recognize that 95 percent of the global market exists outside of the United States. And that when you look at all the corporations or companies that engage in foreign trade in this country, 98 percent of them are considered medium to small size companies," he said.

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