U.S President Donald Trump says there is “no political necessity” to keep Canada in the NAFTA agreement if a “fair deal” cannot be reached.
Trump warned Congress against interfering, threatening to kill the deal single-handedly.
“There is no political necessity to keep Canada in the new NAFTA deal. If we don’t make a fair deal for the US after decades of abuse, Canada will be out,” Trump tweeted on Saturday.
He stated this a day after the trade negotiations with Canada were upended by leaked off-the-record remarks he made to Bloomberg.
He went on to warn US lawmakers against involving themselves in the negotiations, tweeting that should they do this he “will simply terminate NAFTA entirely and we will be far better off.”
Trump, who has repeatedly branded the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) the “worst trade deal ever made,” reiterated that he will not back down from his pledge to quit the deal, if his concerns are not met. “We make new deal or go back to pre-NAFTA!” he tweeted.
In the off record remarks that were published by the Toronto Sun on Friday, Trump said that he did not intend to make any concessions to Canada during the NAFTA negotiations. He asked Bloomberg not to make the remark public, since it is “going to be so insulting that they’re not going to be able to make a deal.”
Trump previously set a deadline for Friday to reach the trilateral deal. When the US-Canada trade talks eventually missed the deadline, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said that Trump had asked Congress to approve the bilateral agreement with Mexico, notifying lawmakers of his intention within the three-month period prescribed by the law.
“Today the president notified the Congress of his intent to sign a trade agreement with Mexico – and Canada, if it is willing – 90 days from now,” Lighthizer said on Friday, hailing the deal with Mexico as “the most advanced and high-standard trade agreement in the world.”
Lighthizer however noted that moving ahead towards securing the trade deal with Mexico did not mean Washington was ceasing attempts to agree a deal with Canada.
“Our officials are continuing to work toward agreement,” he said, adding that the talks will be resumed on Wednesday.
The NAFTA was signed by Canada, Mexico, and the United States in 1993 and came into force in 1994, during the presidency of Bill Clinton.
The longstanding trilateral deal was roundly criticized by the protectionist right, as well as the anti-globalization left, particularly for the damage that eliminating tariffs did to the American auto industry.
Without the impediment of tariffs, auto manufacturers moved their operations south of the border, wreaking havoc on former manufacturing hubs like Detroit, Michigan, and Cleveland, Ohio.
According to a study on the deal effects back in 2013, NAFTA was directly responsible for raising the US trade deficit with Mexico from $17 billion to $177 billion, and cost the US over 850,000 jobs.
In June this year, Washington introduced a 25-percent tariff on steel imports and a 10-percent tariff on aluminum imports from Mexico, Canada and the EU. Mexico swiftly retaliated with import tariffs on some American goods, including steel, apples and pork. Ottawa introduced retaliatory taxes on US imports of steel, aluminum and such goods as whiskey, orange juice and other food products .