August 28, 2018
Just months after President Donald Trump said he would withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)—which had progressively eliminated tariffs between the United States, Mexico, and Canada since 1994—progress has been announced toward a new deal.
According to an August 26 report by Bloomberg, the POTUS still is threatening to leave NAFTA in the dust—saying on Monday that he would create a trade accord with Mexico that would eliminate Canada from the bloc.
Such a new pact would need to be approved by Congress before it could become effective—and that is unlikely. Although Canada has not been a party to recent talks, the potential for a two-country deal appears small, given opposition by Mexico, American lawmakers and North American industries whose supply chains rely on all three countries, the news outlet reported.
Trump announced the agreement with Mexico in a hastily arranged Oval Office event on August 27, Stars and Stripes said, piggybacking on the Bloomberg report, with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto joining by conference call.
According to the military news outlet, Pena Nieto said he is “quite hopeful” Canada would soon be incorporated in the revised agreement, while Trump said that remains to be seen.
The agreement with Mexico centers on rules governing the automobile industry, resolving a big source of friction, but leaves aside other contentious issues that affect all three countries.
Early on Monday morning, Trump tweeted, “A big deal looking good with Mexico!”
America’s trade relations with Canada have deteriorated in recent months, as President Trump has repeatedly carped on the country’s trade practices and Canadian leaders have insisted they will not rush to sign a deal that does not work in their favor.
On August 24, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said that Canada would be “happy” to rejoin the talks once the United States and Mexico had made progress on their specific issues. “Once the bilateral issues get resolved, Canada will be joining the talks to work on both bilateral issues and our trilateral issues,” Freeland said.
Trump has continued to inject uncertainty into the NAFTA talks, believing that the strategy gives his advisers an advantage at the negotiating table, the news outlets said. He has hit Canada and Mexico with hefty tariffs on their shipments of steel and aluminum and threatened further taxes on their cars.
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