Just one day after tumultuous talks between the U.S. and Canada ended without any signs of agreement on a revised version of the North American Free Trade Agreement, President Trump suggested in a tweet that he would forge ahead on a trade deal without Canada.
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On Friday, Trump informed Congress that he will sign a revised pact with Mexico within the next 90 days, according to the U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, who added that the U.S. would continue to work with Canada next week to secure an agreement within that 90-day term.
Canada can sign on until Congress ratifies the deal, which will likely be at the end of November. Trump warned Congress not to interfere with negotiations and said if they did so, he would terminate NAFTA entirely.
“There is no political necessity to keep Canada in the new NAFTA deal,” the president wrote on Twitter. “If we don’t make a fair deal for the U.S. after decades of abuse, Canada will be out. Congress should not interfere w/ these negotiations or I will simply terminate NAFTA entirely & we will be far better off…”
The U.S. and Mexico negotiated a new pact to replace NAFTA, snubbing Canada in the process. The president also suggested he might leave Canada out of the new agreement -- which would be called the “United States-Mexico Trade Agreement.” Canada is the second-biggest trading partner of the U.S., and Mexico is the third.
Tensions between the U.S. and Canada heightened on Friday, after the Toronto Star obtained and published off-the-record remarks Trump made in an interview with Bloomberg News, during which he admitted that he would not make any compromises in order to secure an agreement.
“Wow, I made OFF THE RECORD COMMENTS to Bloomberg concerning Canada, and this powerful understanding was BLATANTLY VIOLATED,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Oh well, just more dishonest reporting. I am used to it. At least Canada knows where I stand!”
According to The Wall Street Journal, the dispute between U.S. and Canada hinges on agricultural and media protection policies, as well as the installation of a system that would allow any of the three countries in the agreement to challenge tariffs imposed by one of the others.
"We are looking for a good deal, not just any deal," Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters earlier this week. "And we will only agree to a deal that is a good deal for Canada. We are not there yet."Trump has also threatened to enact another round of tariffs on Canada’s auto sector if the two traditional economic allies are unable to reach a deal.
The decades-old trilateral trade agreement, which was first signed in 1994, has been a frequent target of Trump, who has criticized large trade deficits the U.S. has with Mexico and Canada, as well as the relocation of American jobs and companies.
U.S. goods and services trade with Canada totaled an estimated $544.9 billion in 2016, with a trade surplus of $11.2 billion.