- Associated Press - Thursday, June 15, 2017

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Top Texas business lobbyists and firms have formed a coalition to defend the North American Free Trade Agreement, aiming to counter President Donald Trump’s past criticism of the pact.

The Texas Association of Business and Texas Business Leadership Council unveiled the “Texas-Mexico Trade Coalition” on Thursday at the state Capitol. Also joining is Borderplex Alliance, consisting of companies that trade heavily with Mexico.

The group will “carry a message to Washington that NAFTA works” but can be made better.

Texas benefits from NATA more than any other state. Its trade with Mexico accounts for $200 billion annually.

As a candidate, Trump derided NAFTA as the worst trade deal ever and suggested scrapping it. But he’s since softened, sending Congress last month formal notification of plans to simply renegotiate the pact.

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