Published: Fri, April 28, 2017
U.S. | By Eddie Scott

Trump Says He Was 'Set to Terminate' NAFTA

President Donald Trump said Thursday he's still ready to pull out of the North American Free Trade Agreement if he can't renegotiate better terms for the US but that he chose to hold off on a decision after appeals from the leaders of Canada and Mexico.

His comments came at the end of a long 24 hours during which Ottawa and Mexico City were whipsawed over the Trump administration's intentions over the 23-year-old trade pact.

He decided that it would be better to terminate the trade deal after hearing about Wisconsin farmers' struggles with new Canadian dairy rules that were shutting out their milk protein exports. Bannon already is seen as being on the outs with Trump over reportedly sparring with Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner. I said I will hold on the termination. But he said he reconsidered after Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau both phoned him Wednesday asking him to renegotiate the deal instead. "It hurts us with Canada, and it hurts us with Mexico", he said.

"Mexico and Canada are now our No. 2 and No. 4 markets, so we absolutely must not have any disruptions to USA pork exports there".

To recap: NAFTA, passed in the early 1990s, eliminated most tariffs on products traded between the U.S., Canada and Mexico, which for the auto industry has also meant a huge boost to vehicle production in Mexico, but at the same time a sizable jump in auto choices for American consumers.

Mexico, Canada and the United States form one of the world's biggest trading blocs, and trade disruptions among them could adversely affect farm, automotive, energy and other sectors in all three countries.

Salmonsen says he is in favor of modernizing NAFTA after a 90-day notification of Congress, but not withdrawal of the trade agreement. But Trump on the campaign trail long said US was getting screwed in the deal and frequently used it as a punching bag as he appealed to disaffected Rust Belt voters-especially in states that are, or once were, heavy on auto production. It's been very good for Mexico.

But Trump, who spoke as he met with visiting Argentinian President Mauricio Macri, added that "If I'm unable to make a fair deal for the United States-meaning a fair deal for our workers and our companies, I will terminate NAFTA". Free and fair trade.

"I am very upset with NAFTA". 'Subject to the fact that if we do not reach a fair deal for all, we will then terminate NAFTA.

A number of Republicans are strong backers of free trade and have cautioned the administration against walking away from the free-trade deal. "The president has made addressing the problems of NAFTA a priority throughout the campaign, and once the president makes a decision about how he wants to address that, we'll let you know", he said.

Canada sends 75 percent of its exports to the United States.

The moves came days after the administration announced it would slap hefty tariffs on softwood lumber being imported from Canada.

The Mexican government confirmed the conversation in a statement issued late Wednesday.

Trump told The Associated Press in an interview last week that he planned to either renegotiate or terminate NAFTA, which he and other critics blame for wiping out USA manufacturing jobs because it allowed companies to move factories to Mexico to take advantage of low-wage labor.

One of Trump's first major acts after becoming president in January was to pull out of the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership, negotiated by his Democratic predecessor Barack Obama.

The news comes after Politico reported on a draft order to withdraw from NAFTA earlier this week.

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