President Donald Trump says the U.S. and Mexico have resolved several key obstacles to a renegotiated NAFTA – with a different name – while suggesting that Canada may be left out of a final agreement.
"They used to call it NAFTA," Trump said. "We're going to call it the U.S.-Mexico Trade Agreement. 'NAFTA' has a lot of bad connotations. It was a rip-off."
Trump made the announcement about the deal from the Oval Office in the White House, while speaking by phone to Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.
The preliminary agreement with Mexico is said to include changes to auto rules to allow increased production in North America, but few details were immediately available. Today’s announcement followed weeks of talks and a marathon session over the weekend in Washington. On Monday morning Trump summed up the results in a Tweet: "A big deal looking good with Mexico!"
Later, from the Oval Office, Trump called the agreement "something that is very special for our manufacturers (and) for our farmers.
"It's an incredible deal for both parties," Trump said as reporters looked on while he spoke to Peña Nieto.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue called the deal with Mexico "a great victory for farmers and ranchers, because locking in our access to Mexican markets is critical to supporting farm income and strengthening rural communities."
Trump, he said in a statement, "has achieved important improvements in the agreement to enable our agricultural producers to be treated more fairly. This breakthrough demonstrates that the president’s common-sense strategy of holding trading partners accountable will produce results."
Perdue said the agreement "specifically addresses agricultural biotechnology to keep up with 21st century innovations. And we mutually pledge to work together with Mexico to reduce trade-distorting policies, increase transparency, and ensure non-discriminatory treatment in grading of agricultural products."
Farm groups applauded the preliminary trade agreement with Mexico. Click here to check out the reaction.
“We now hope that Canada will see the need to settle all of the outstanding issues between our two nations as well, and restore us to a true North American Free Trade Agreement,” he said.
Peña Nieto agreed, telling Trump, "It is our wish, Mr. President, that Canada will also be able to be incorporated in all this."
Trump said he planned to call Prime Minister Justin Trudeau soon to see if they can push the negotiations along.
“Canada’s signature is required” on a new NAFTA agreement, Adam Austen, a spokesman for Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, told Bloomberg in an email. “We will only sign a new NAFTA that is good for Canada and good for the middle class.”
Negotiations on rewriting the three-country agreement began about a year ago. The U.S. and Canada are still at loggerheads over several significant issues, including Trump’s demand that Canada ease restrictions on U.S. sales of dairy products across the border.
The U.S. and Mexico would like to get a handshake agreement on an agreement revamping the 24-year-old trade deal before Mexico’s new president takes office on Dec. 1.
Today’s announcement comes after the U.S. in May imposed heavy tariffs on steel and aluminum from a host of trading partners, including Mexico. In response, Mexico slapped tariffs on $3 billion of US goods, including steel, pork, apples, potatoes, bourbon and different types of cheese.
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