Donald Trump says he's 'terminating' NAFTA; seals 'incredible' trade deal with Mexico; leaves Canada out for now

Washington: US president Donald Trump says he intends to terminate the North American Free Trade Agreement and call its replacement "the United States-Mexico Trade Agreement" — a name that would exclude the third NAFTA partner, Canada.

Trump made the comments after announcing an "understanding" with Mexico that could lead to an overhaul of the 24-year-old trade pact, which Trump has called a job-killing "disaster." Details of the U.S.-Mexico agreement were expected to be unveiled later Monday.

The president says he will be calling Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Trump says, "If they'd like to negotiate fairly, we'll do that." He also threatened to tax Canadian auto imports to increase the pressure on Canada's government.

Trump says: "We could have a separate deal (with Canada) or we could put it into this deal."US president Donald Trump says he'll be "terminating" the North American Free Trade Agreement as he pursues a deal with Mexico and starts negotiations with Canada.

Trump said Monday during an Oval Office event that he'll be calling the emerging agreement the "United States-Mexico Trade Agreement." He says it will mark the end of the NAFTA name.

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto was on speakerphone and says he hopes NAFTA partner Canada will eventually be incorporated into the deal.
Adam Austen, a spokesman for the Canadian Foreign Minister, says Canada had been in regular contact with the NAFTA negotiators.

Stocks are rising broadly as the U.S. and Mexico prepare to announce the details of the new trade agreement.

Industrial companies, banks and big technology stocks are among the biggest winners in midday trading on Wall Street.

Automakers are climbing as investors hope the agreement will prevent tariffs on imported cars. General Motors rose 4.3 percent and Ford climbed 2.8 percent.

File image of US president Donald Trump. AP

File image of US president Donald Trump. AP

Canada, which is part of NAFTA, is not participating in the announcement. Trump says negotiations with Canada have yet to begin and is calling on the country to negotiate fairly. He's threatening anew to slap tariffs on Canadian cars if they fail to do what he wants.

U.S. and Mexican negotiators worked over the weekend to narrow their differences. Once they reach an agreement, the third country in NAFTA — Canada — would be brought back in to finalize a revamp of the 24-year-old pact.

NAFTA reduced most trade barriers between the three countries. But Trump and other critics say it encouraged U.S. manufacturers to move south of the border to exploit low-wage Mexican labor.

The Trump administration wants a higher percentage of auto production to come from within the NAFTA bloc before qualifying for duty-free status.

U.S. Trade Rep. Robert Lightizer and Mexican Secretary of Economy Idelfonso Guajardo walked together into the White House without talking to reporters. The delegation also included Jesus Seade, a World Trade Organization veteran tapped by Mexican President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador as his future chief trade negotiator.

Once they reach an agreement, the third country in NAFTA — Canada — would be brought back in to finalize a revamp of the 24-year-old pact. But the countries still must resolve difficult issues, including U.S. complaints about Canada's protection for its dairy farmers and the way disputes are resolved under NAFTA.

Adam Austen, a spokesman for Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, said: "Canada is encouraged by the continued optimism shown by our negotiating partners. Progress between Mexico and the United States is a necessary requirement for any renewed NAFTA agreement."

Austen said the Canadians had been regular contact with the NAFTA negotiators.

"We will only sign a new NAFTA that is good for Canada and good for the middle class," he said, adding that "Canada's signature is required."

NAFTA reduced most trade barriers between the three countries. But Trump and other critics say it encouraged U.S. manufacturers to move south of the border to exploit low-wage Mexican labor.

Talks to overhaul the agreement began a year ago and have proven contentious.The Trump administration wants a higher percentage of auto production to come from within the NAFTA bloc before qualifying for duty-free status.

Talks have also been stymied by the Trump administration's insistence on a "sunset clause" that would end NAFTA in five years unless all three countries agreed to continue it.


Updated Date: Aug 27, 2018 21:34 PM

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