President Donald Trump's tariffs on steel and aluminum raise new concerns about the U.S. commitment to NAFTA, but energy is one industry that could continue to bind North American commerce together, regardless of trade deals. On Monday, Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan urged Trump to rethink his plan to place a 25 percent tariff on steel and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum, noting he is "extremely worried" about the fallout. The president tweeted he may drop tariffs for Canada and Mexico if they can renegotiate a new NAFTA deal with the United States.
The energy interests of the United States, Mexico and Canada are so integrated, it would be in no one country's interests to undo them, industry experts say. The United States is both a buyer and seller of energy with both its southern and northern neighbors and has been for decades.
"On all sides, the idea of a North American energy security, energy dominance is a consistent goal across all countries," said Jackie Forrest, ARC Energy Research Institute senior director of research. "I would expect ongoing free trade for energy. It's a win-win for all parties. The scenario of having tariffs on energy — nobody really wins from that."
The top energy officials from all three countries will appear together Wednesday at the annual IHS Markit CERAWeek energy conference in Houston. U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry; Canadian Natural Resources Minister James Gordon Carr; and Pedro Joaquín Coldwell, Secretary of Energy, Mexico, are expected to discuss common interests and challenges.