NATFA itself has a very simple escape clause.
Article 2205: Withdrawal
A Party may withdraw from this Agreement six months after it provides written notice of withdrawal to the other Parties. If a Party withdraws, the Agreement shall remain in force for the remaining Parties.
You want out, you get out in six months. No questions asked. So if the United States submits written notice to Canada and Mexico, it could be out in time for the holidays.
The real question is: Who is the United States? Does this formal withdrawal require an act of Congress, or can the president pull the switch alone?
Article II of the Constitution makes clear the president’s power in making treaties.
[The President] shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur…
As with Supreme Court appointments, that “Advice and Consent” clause has been regularly read as meaning that the Senate’s approval is required. There are some types of treaties that president may enter into without getting that box checked, but NAFTA was approved by the Senate.
What about getting out? That is, unfortunately, a good deal muddier.
In 2001, George W. Bush let Russia know that he intended to withdraw from the Anti-ballistic Missile Treaty.
In making his announcement, Mr. Bush declared at the White House Rose Garden, “I have concluded the ABM treaty hinders our government’s ways to protect our people from future terrorist or rogue state missile attacks.”
Bush didn’t seek any sort of approval from the Senate. His move went unchallenged in court and six…
click here to read more