Trump announces trade agreement with Mexico on NAFTA overhaul
WASHINGTON, Aug. 27 (Xinhua) — The United States has reached a trade agreement with Mexico that would pave the way for overhauling the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), U.S. President Donald Trump announced on Monday.
“We’re going to call it the United States-Mexico trade agreement,” Trump said at an event in the Oval Office with outgoing Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto joining by phone call.
“We’ll get rid of the name NAFTA. It has a bad connotation because the United States was hurt very badly by NAFTA for many years,” he said.
Pena Nieto insisted during the phone call that Canada should also be included in a final deal.
“It is our wish, Mr. President, that now Canada will also be able to be incorporated in all this. And I assume that they are going to carry out negotiations on the sensitive bilateral issues between Canada and the United States,” he said through a translator.
Trump said he would speak with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a little while and hoped to resume negotiations with Canada soon.
“One way or another we’ll have a deal with Canada. It’ll either be a tariff on cars or it’ll be a negotiated deal,” he said.
“Frankly, a tariff on cars is a much easier way to go. But perhaps the other would be much better for Canada,” said the president.
The U.S. push to finish NAFTA talks came after the Trump administration recently launched the national security investigation into automotive imports, a protectionist move that could disrupt the global auto supply chains.
A spokesman for Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said on Monday that Canada will “continue to work toward a modernized NAFTA,” but would only sign a new agreement that is good for the country.
“We will only sign a new NAFTA that is good for Canada and good for the middle class. Canada’s signature is required,” the spokesman said.
U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer, at the same event in the Oval Office, said he expects to submit a notice to Congress on Friday and the new trade agreement is likely to be signed at the end of November.
The agreement, which subjects to congressional approval, will last 16 years and will be reviewed every six years, according to a senior administration official.
“At the end of that review, we would expect that the agreement would be extended for another 16 years,” the official told reporters in a briefing call on Monday.
While calling Monday’s announcement by the United States and Mexico “an important step toward modernizing NAFTA,” Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch emphasized that “a final agreement should include Canada.”
“I look forward to reviewing the details of today’s announcement and continuing to work with USTR to resolve these issues so that a revamped NAFTA can pass Congress and become law,” Hatch said in a statement.
As the main panel in the Senate overseeing trade issues, the finance committee’s approval will be key to any trade deal.
Talks on renegotiating the NAFTA began in August 2017 as Trump threatened to withdraw from the trilateral trade deal, which he claimed harmed U.S. industries and jobs.