President Trump announced that the U.S. has entered into a new bilateral trade agreement with Mexico, replacing the former agreement known as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
The President made the announcement from the Oval Office this morning.
“This has to do – they used to call it NAFTA. We’re going to call it the United States – Mexico Trade Agreement. 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 and now it’s a really good deal for both countries, and we look very much forward to it,” the President said.
Joining him for the announcement from the Oval Office were representatives from the Mexican government including Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray and Secretary of the Economy lldefonso Guajardo. Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto also joined the announcement via teleconference.
“I think this is something very positive for the United States and Mexico,” Pena Nieto said. “And the first reason for this call, Mr. President, is, first of all, to celebrate the understanding we have had between both negotiating peace on NAFTA, in the interest we have had for quite a few months now to renew it, to modernize it, to update it, and to generate a framework that will boost and potentiate productivity in North America.”
Conspicuously absent from the announcement was Canada, NAFTA’s third signatory. Tensions between the U.S. and its northern neighbor have run high in recent months after the Trump administration’s announcement it was imposing tariffs on foreign good entering the U.S. including those from Canada.
The tit-for-tat reached a low point earlier this year when a war of words erupted in the wake of Canada’s announcement that it was responding in kind to American tariffs with tariffs of its own.
Trudeau referred to the American tariffs as “insulting” and said that “it would be with regret, but it would be with absolute certainty and firmness that we move forward with retaliatory measures on July 1, applying equivalent tariffs to the ones that the Americans have unjustly applied to us.”
Trudeau made the announcement at the conclusion of a G7 meeting in Quebec, Canada, in June. The timing of the announcement – after President Trump had departed – drew Mr. Trump’s ire.
“PM Justin Trudeau of Canada acted so meek and mild during our @g7 meetings only to give a news conference after I left saying that, ‘US Tariffs were kind of insulting’ and he ‘will not be pushed around.’ Very dishonest & weak. Our Tariffs are in response to his of 270% on dairy!” President Trump wrote on Twitter at the time.
The U.S., Mexico and Canada have been renegotiating the terms of NAFTA for about a year. Renegotiating the deal was major campaign promise of President Trump’s.
NAFTA was signed in 1993. It was supposed to spur economic activity of all three countries but many blame it for an exodus of manufacturing jobs from the U.S., primarily to Mexico. The agreement between the U.S. and Mexico puts pressure on Canada to join the renegotiated terms as well.
It was announced this evening that President Trump and Prime Minister Trudeau spoke via phone and discussed today’s development. A statement from Prime Minister Trudeau’s office said the two leaders would engage this week “with a view to successful conclusion of the negotiations.”