ASSOCIATED PRESS: America’s biggest business group is warning the Trump administration that a withdrawal from the North American Free Trade Agreement would be a “political and economic debacle” that would cost hundreds of thousands of U.S. jobs.

Talking with reporters Friday, John Murphy, a senior official with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber would work to rally support for the trade deal and against the administration’s hardline demand for concessions from Canada and Mexico. The comments were unusually blunt for America’s biggest business group.

The Trump administration, which has threatened to pull out of NAFTA if the three countries can’t agree on far-reaching changes to favor American interests, quickly returned fire.

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The Rio Grande Guardian’s Steve Taylor writes:

MCALLEN, RGV – The U.S. Chamber claims that 41 million American jobs depend on trade. Also, that 98 percent of American companies that export goods are small- and medium-sized businesses.

Additionally, that six million manufacturing jobs depend on exports. The Chamber also points to opinion polls that show three out of five voters want government to negotiate more trade deals.

Looking specifically at Texas, the U.S. Chamber states that 3.1 million jobs are supported by international trade. The Chamber says 41,881 companies export goods from Texas locations. Additionally, 93 percent of Texas exporters are small- and medium-size businesses. In 2014, $337.3 billion of goods and services were exported from Texas. And, 62 percent of Texas exports went to Free Trade Agreements markets. Also, 544,800 workers employed by foreign firms invested in Texas.

The president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Tom Donohue, took to pages of The Wall Street Journal to to say that quitting NAFTA would “be an economic, political and national-security disaster.”

In his opinion piece, Donohue wrote:

“Fourteen million American jobs depend on trade with Canada and Mexico, which are by far the U.S.’s largest export markets. Our North American neighbors buy more than $600 billion in U.S.-manufactured goods each year, more than the next 10 largest markets combined.

“Thanks to Nafta, virtually all North American trade is tariff-free. After withdrawing from the deal, tariffs on all products would snap back to an average of 3.5 percent for the U.S., 4.2 percent for Canada, and 7.5 percent for Mexico—a terrible deal for all three countries.

“The increased tariffs would hit American consumers and exporters in the pocketbook, but the losses would accumulate well before that. Supply chains would shift away from the U.S., as Canada and Mexico looked to their other free-trade partners, in Europe and Asia, for manufactured goods and food.

“Hundreds of thousands of American jobs would be lost, and that’s a conservative estimate. Heartland states that voted for President Trump would be hurt most, and angry voters would know exactly whom to blame.

“Beyond the trade retaliation and economic fallout, cooperation between the U.S. and Mexico in other areas would fall off. Today the two countries work closely on anti-terror and anti-narcotics efforts, and Mexico helps limit Central American migration northward. These efforts would end overnight.”