Donald John Trump keeps his promises.
Today, President Trump fulfilled yet another of his campaign promises — ending NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement). During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump often railed against the trade pact as “the worst trade deal maybe ever signed anywhere.”
Fox News reports that President Trump announced today his plans to terminate the existing NAFTA, and a new tentative agreement between the United States and Mexico that he calls “one of the largest trade deals ever made.” The United States Trade Representative called the deal a “preliminary agreement in principle, subject to finalization and implementation.”
Trump said he wanted to get rid of the name “NAFTA” because it has bad connotations, and that he would like to call the new deal with Mexico the United States-Mexico Trade Agreement: “They used to call it NAFTA, we are going to call it the United States-Mexico Trade Agreement, and we will get rid of the name NAFTA. It has a bad connotation because the United States was hurt very badly by NAFTA.”
Sitting at the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office, President Trump put Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto on his speaker phone as the press watched. Speaking through a translator, Peña Nieto congratulated the negotiators on both sides and even offered to give President Trump a hug.
Trump and Peña Nieto have been working for the past five weeks to iron out resolve key differences on issues ranging from automobiles to energy, so that an agreement can be finalized and signed ahead of Mexican President-elect (and a declared socialist) Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s inauguration in December.
One of the biggest issues on the negotiating table deals with car manufacturing jobs, as the Trump administration pushes for a deal that would boost factory employment in the U.S. According to a fact sheet from the U.S. Trade Representative, the new trade agreement with Mexico includes new rules of origin to incentivize manufacturers to source goods and materials in North America – including requiring 75% of auto content be made in the United States and Mexico.
The U.S. on Thursday agreed to keep the 2.5% tariff currently applied under World Trade Organization rules if the cars are made at factories that already exist, which leaves open the possibility that automobiles that are built at new plants could face tariffs of 20% to 25%.
As for Canada, President Trump said “we’ll see” if Canada can still be part of the trade pact, leaving open the possibility of separate agreements: “We are starting negotiations with Canada pretty much immediately.”
Officials in Canada still expressed optimism over a renewed NAFTA. Both Canada and Mexico have said they want to keep the three-nation NAFTA that dates back to 1994. A spokesman for Canada’s minister of foreign affair, Chrystia Freeland, said: “Canada is encouraged by the continued optimism shown by our negotiating partners. Progress between Mexico and the United States is a necessary requirement for any renewed NAFTA agreement. Our focus is unchanged. We’ll keep standing up for Canadian interests as we work toward a modernized trilateral NAFTA agreement.”
Earlier in August, Trump threatened Canada with auto tariffs if the U.S. and Canada can’t forge a deal. He tweeted: “Canada must wait. Their Tariffs and Trade Barriers are far too high. Will tax cars if we can’t make a deal!”
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