(AP/James Finley)

Trump turns on NAFTA: After saying he'll eliminate, he says he'll negotiate a "fair deal"

The president frequently denounced NAFTA as a "disaster" during the 2016 presidential campaign


Matthew Rozsa
April 27, 2017 5:01PM (UTC)

President Donald Trump, who regularly referred to NAFTA as a "disaster" during the 2016 presidential election, now claims he is in the process of renegotiating the deal with Canada and Mexico.

In a statement on Wednesday, Trump said that "it is my privilege to bring NAFTA up to date through renegotiation. It is an honor to deal with both [Mexican] President [Enrique] Peña Nieto and [Canadian] Prime Minister [Justin] Trudeau, and I believe that the end result will make all three countries stronger and better."

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The Mexican government confirmed that it had these conversations with Trump, issuing a statement on Wednesday saying that "the leaders agreed on the convenience of maintaining the North American Free Trade Agreement and working together with Canada to carry out a successful renegotiation for the benefit of all three countries."

Trump added more detail to his ongoing NAFTA renegotiations through his Twitter account on Thursday morning.

Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross added more detail to Trump's pronouncements during an appearance on CNBC's "Squawk Box.".

"Mexico's trade deficit with China is approximately equal to their trade surplus to us. It's not an accident. The rules of origin in NAFTA need some tightening," Ross told CNBC. "Rules of origin are what let material outside of NAFTA to come in and benefit from all the taxes and tariff reductions within NAFTA. It was a silly idea to let a lot of outside stuff in. The whole idea of a trade deal is to build a fence around participants inside and give them an advantage over the outside. So there's a conceptual flaw in that, one of many conceptual flaws in NAFTA."

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An early sign that Trump plans on rewriting American trade policy came last week, when he openly denounced Canadian trade policies involving lumber, dairy products, and other goods. This was later followed by him adding new tariffs to Canadian lumber.

 

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Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a breaking news writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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