Will NAFTA Renegotiations Affect Architecture?
During Trump's inauguration speech he pledged to "Buy American [and] Hire American". While at the time the claim didn't cause for too much concern, he is said to soon sign an executive order stating his intention to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement. Panic for renegotiation isn't necessary since in previous years there has been talks that the North American Free Trade Agreement needs to be updated. However, Trump has also mentioned the possibility of termination which is quite alarming and panic inducing. Even though termination is plan B, we look at what it could mean for architecture if Trump eliminates the United States from the NAFTA.
Since NAFTA came into effect in 1992, there has been an increase in trade and investment levels in North America. The agreement is responsible for strong economic growth, job creation, better prices of goods, and more selection in consumer goods. North American businesses get better access to materials, technologies, investment capital, and talent available across North America.
NAFTA also currently allows architects to work across borders in North America if they meet the qualifications set out by NAFTA to become a roaming architect. If the NAFTA is terminated, there would be no guarantee that architects could continue to move swiftly between borders for projects. So work could potentially be limited to domestic realms.
In addition to work being limited, another cause for concern would be the limit of goods available. One of the major benefits of the NAFTA is the importing and exporting of goods within Mexico, Canada, and the USA. If the United States withdraws, there is no telling on the detrimental impacts this will have on the materials used in architecture.
While certain materials could be affected by the NAFTA, Lumber was removed from the NAFTA in 2006 and was replaced with a Softwood Lumber Agreement between Canada and the United States. This agreement however, is also under negotiation alongside the NAFTA. There has been speculation that lumber can be added back to the NAFTA which would increase the prices of lumber and houses in the United States or it can remain within the Softwood Lumber Agreement. While the SLA is currently in affect, this could also change with the negotiations.
If the Softwood Lumber Agreement is terminated, it would mean hefty U.S. duties on Canadian timber exports to the United States, limiting Canadian timber shipments to the United States, and having more harvesting come directly from the United States. So architects may begin to notice a lack of timber supply for their demand and potentially higher or lower prices of timber.