Trump: NAFTA to be renegotiated in discussions with Canada, Mexico

Despite lamenting multi-lateral trade deals during the campaign and formally withdrawing the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in January, President Trump announced Thursday he would renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Mexico and Canada.

“It is my privilege to bring NAFTA up to date through renegotiation.  It is an honor to deal with both President Peña Nieto and Prime Minister Trudeau, and I believe that the end result will make all three countries stronger and better,” read a White House statement.

According to a Friday report in the Wall Street Journal, Trump’s decision to overhaul terms of the two-decade-old trade agreement is due in part to influence from Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and newly-minted Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, both of whom persuaded Trump change his mind over likely job losses in states which voted in favor of Trump.

The Journal also revealed blitz phone calls from Mexican President Pena Nieto and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appealing to the president not to scrap the trade pact came shortly after leaks suggested the White House was preparing documents to exit the accord.

Following phone conversations with Nieto and Trudeau, Trump said the two leaders expressed an eagerness for talks to refine the trade agreement, but did not retreat from the option of ending talks if deemed unproductive, and subsequently end U.S. participation in the agreement.

“We’ll terminate NAFTA if we’re unable to make a deal, but hopefully we won’t have to do that,” Trump stated in an interview with the Journal.

If the U.S. did withdraw from the trade agreement, trade officials would be required to give six months’ prior notice.

Earlier this week, the White House announced new tariffs on Canada’s softwood lumber exported to the U.S.  President Trump has also pointed to the unfairness of Canada’s dairy and energy prices, which he argues undercut American producers.

Both Canada’s dairy production, which is heavily regulated by the government, and softwood lumber industry, are not included in the 1994 NAFTA agreement.

 

[Roll Call] [Wall Street Journal] [AP] [Reuters] [Photo courtesy CNN]