Trump's gyrations on NAFTA cause a flurry of head-scratching

May 11, 2017, 18:00
Trump's gyrations on NAFTA cause a flurry of head-scratching

U.S. President Donald Trump told the leaders of Canada and Mexico on Wednesday that he will not terminate the NAFTA treaty at this stage, but will move quickly to begin renegotiating it with them, a White House statement said.

Trump, during a White House appearance with Argentine President Mauricio Macri, said terminating the North American Free Trade Agreement, a pact he has long condemned as unfair to the United States, "would be a pretty big shock to the system", though he was planning to do so within two or three days. "I looked forward to terminating. I will", Trump said.

The announcement followed 24 hours of confusion over the status of the trade deal between the United States, Mexico and Canada, after the White House indicated it was preparing an executive order withdrawing from the deal.

The White House's "readout" of each call described his talks with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto as "pleasant and productive".

Answering a reporter's question Thursday about the possible timeframe for NAFTA talks, Trump said: "It'll start very soon".

"When facts are presented, I think that cooler heads will prevail on the American side", he said.

When it comes to the auto industry, Dias said Canada should be looking at more than the trade deal with the United States and Mexico.

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Trump zeroed in on the renegotiation of trade deals since his presidential campaign and, in his very early days in office, withdrew the USA from the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Trudeau says the two agreed instead they could sit down and work on ways to make the deal better, a renegotiation process similar to what's been done in the past. Ted Cruz's office pointed to comments the Texas Republican has previously made saying there is "no doubt that Texas benefits enormously from global trade", including with Canada and Mexico. "As we conveyed to our Mexican partners in our visit there earlier this year, NAFTA is very important to both our countries and has yielded strong benefits for agriculture".

Mexico and the USA still have points of disagreement but "we are advancing in the right direction", Mexican Foreign Relations Secretary Luis Videgaray said.

On Tuesday, the U.S. lost a trade battle with the other Nafta signatory.

The Trump administration last month circulated a draft letter on NAFTA renegotiations but has yet to give official notice.

The president's action came as a relief to NAFTA supporters, including those within Trump's own party. "To build upon that track record, we need to address unfinished business such as the remaining tariff and nontariff trade barriers that Canada has pursued".

Trump may have tried to start a NAFTA renegotiation from a position of strength, added the senator. But Mr Trump repeatedly criticised the deal during the presidential campaign, promising to revoke it if he secured office. With hundreds of billions of dollars at stake, it's little wonder those countries' leaders pressed Trump not to abandon the trade agreement. "Forty percent of the imports that go into Mexican products come from the U.S. That number is 25 percent for Canada", Hurd said.

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