President Trump continued to complicate NAFTA negotiations with a tweet Thursday morning calling NAFTA “a bad joke.” In two tweets defending his stance on building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, Trump referred to Mexico’s “ridiculous $71 billion trade surplus with the U.S.”
Last week, Trump told the Wall Street Journal that he was “flexible” on his threat to withdraw from NAFTA. Recent discussions between the President and Senators seemed to provide reassurance that NAFTA would not be terminated, but now Trump appears to have renewed his attack on the agreement.
In an interview with Reuters on Wednesday, Trump said, “A lot of people are going to be unhappy if I terminate NAFTA. A lot of people don’t realize how good it would be to terminate NAFTA because the way you’re going to make the best deal is to terminate NAFTA. But people would like to see me not do that.”
Despite uncertainty in Canada about the survival of NAFTA, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed optimism earlier this week that the agreement can be modernized to the benefit of all three NAFTA partners.
“My assessment that there is a path forward is (based on the fact) that I truly believe, I truly know, that NAFTA has been good for jobs in the United States, it’s been good for jobs in Canada, it’s been good for the Mexican economy,” said Trudeau in an interview with the Canadian Press.
“And there are ways, there is a way to move forward that will end up beneficial, more beneficial than any other path—bilaterals or termination or whatever. So I do believe there are good chances that we’re going to end up in a win-win-win for everyone.”
Mexico said it will walk away from negotiations if Trump triggers withdrawal from the agreement. It is not helping matters that the President has linked paying for his coveted wall with a new NAFTA agreement.
“They can pay for it indirectly through NAFTA,” Trump told the Wall Street Journal last week. “We make a good deal on NAFTA, and, say, ‘I’m going to take a small percentage of that money and it’s going toward the wall.’ Guess what? Mexico’s paying.”
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