President Donald Trump and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto announced on Monday that they had reached an “understanding” to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement.
In an Oval Office announcement, which included Peña Nieto on speaker phone, Trump told reporters that the U.S. and Mexico are putting the finishing touches on will be “one of the largest trade deals ever made.”
“It’s a big day for trade. It’s a big day for our country,” the president said. “I’ll be terminating the existing deal and going into this deal.”
“They use to call it NAFTA,” Mr. Trump said. “We’re going to call it the United States-Mexico trade agreement. We’ll get rid of the name NAFTA. Has a bad connotation, because the United States was hurt very badly by NAFTA for many years.”
Mexico is the United States’ third largest trading partner behind China and Canada. Through June of this year, U.S. exports to Mexico totaled $131.3 billion and imports were $169.3 billion or a deficit of $38 billion.
BREAKING: @realDonaldTrump announces United States/Mexico trade agreement, says it will replace NAFTA.
— Globalnews.ca (@globalnews) August 27, 2018
Peña Nieto characterized the agreement as something that will be “very positive” for both countries, and that NAFTA needed to be renewed and “modernized.”
“I recognize your political will and your participation in this,” the Mexican president told Trump.
President Trump spoke by phone with Mexico's sitting president, Enrique Peña Nieto, who said the new United States — Mexico Trade Agreement, which is replacing NAFTA, would generate a framework that'll work that will boost productivity in North America. pic.twitter.com/UdiLS3XJbw
— POLITICO (@politico) August 27, 2018
Peña Nieto also urged Canada to join in negotiations and to become part of the final deal.
The outgoing Mexican leader tweeted on Monday that he had spoken with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau by phone stating the importance of re-engaging in the negotiations, so a final deal between the three nations can be concluded this week.
Hablé con el Primer Ministro de Canadá, @JustinTrudeau, sobre el estado de las negociaciones del TLCAN y el avance entre México y EUA. Le expresé la importancia de su reincorporación al proceso, con la finalidad de concluir una negociación trilateral esta misma semana.
— Enrique Peña Nieto (@EPN) August 27, 2018
The following screenshot of Peña Nieto’s tweet was translated using Google Translate.
Trump and Peña Nieto have had a strained relationship at times, particularly over the issues of border security and trade, but the American president tweeted over the weekend that the two nations are now “working closely together.”
Our relationship with Mexico is getting closer by the hour. Some really good people within both the new and old government, and all working closely together….A big Trade Agreement with Mexico could be happening soon!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 25, 2018
“Our relationship with Mexico is getting closer by the hour. Some really good people within both the new and old government, and all working closely together….A big Trade Agreement with Mexico could be happening soon!” Trump wrote.
Trump, who has frequently expressed his desire for bi-lateral trade deals, was non-committal whether Canada will join the current one with Mexico.
“We’ll see if Canada can be part,” he told reporters, and added that separate negotiations would start “pretty much immediately,” CBS News reported.
Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland is expected to arrive in Washington later Monday or Tuesday morning, according to The Washington Post.
“Canada is encouraged by the continued optimism shown by our negotiating partners,” said Adam Austen, spokesperson for Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s minister of foreign affairs.
“Progress between Mexico and the United States is a necessary requirement for any renewed NAFTA agreement. We are in regular contact with our negotiating partners, and we will continue to work toward a modernized NAFTA. We will only sign a new NAFTA that is good for Canada and good for the middle class. Canada’s signature is required.”
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