President Donald Trump discussed his decision to renegotiate NAFTA, admitting that terminating the trade deal would cause too much economic chaos.
“I decided rather than terminating NAFTA, which would be a pretty big, you know, shock to the system, we will renegotiate,” Trump said.
But Trump signaled he was still open to the idea of killing the agreement, if he couldn’t get a good deal from Mexico and Canada.
“If I’m unable to make a fair deal for the United States, meaning a fair deal for our workers and our companies, I will terminate NAFTA,” he said. “But we’re going to give renegotiation a good, strong shot.”
Trump made his remarks to White House reporters during a visit from Argentinian president Mauricio Macri.
The president shocked Mexico and Canada after news reports revealed Wednesday that the White House had drafted an executive order to terminate NAFTA.
After speaking with President Peña Nieto of Mexico and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, Trump said he was open to negotiations instead. A senior White House aide described Trump’s move as “the art of the deal” and signaled optimism for a speedy renegotiation of NAFTA.
But Trump’s new tone of negotiation on NAFTA might raise skepticism from supporters who shared his anger toward the deal, blaming it for gutting manufacturing jobs in the rust belt states.
“I agreed subject to the fact that if we do not reach a fair deal for all, we will then terminate NAFTA. Relationships are good — deal very possible!” he wrote on Twitter Thursday morning.