President Donald Trump announced a new bilateral trade deal with Mexico on Monday morning from the Oval Office alongside U.S. and Mexican officials.
“It’s a big day for trade, big day for our country, a lot of people though we’d never get here because we all negotiate tough. We do, so does Mexico,” said Trump.
Trump told reporters he wanted to do away with the name NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) in favor of a new trade deal, The United States México trade agreement. He said the name NAFTA has a bad connotation because the U.S. has been hurt badly by it. He called the new deal a really good deal for both countries, the U.S. and Mexico.
He added, “we’ll see if Canada can be part of deal.” President Trump spoke of possibly making a separate bilateral trade deal with Canada and that negotiations on that would start soon.
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto joined the group by phone for the announcement.
In the room with Trump were U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Mexico’s Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray Caso, and Mexico’s Economic Minister Ildefonso Guajardo. Chief of Staff John Kelly, National Security Advisor John Bolton, and Senior Advisor to the President Jared Kushner.
News of the deal began breaking Monday morning ahead of the announcement. It comes on the heels of days of trade negotiations between the two countries.
“We’ve all worked very hard and your brilliant representatives are sitting right in front of me and I thought we would congratulate each other before it got out,” Trump told Nieto. “I know we’ll have a formal news conference in the not-too-distant future.”
Through a translator President Nieto thanked Trump and remarked that this is “very positive for the United States and Mexico.” He went on that the call was to “celebrate the understanding that [they] have had between both negotiating team on NAFTA.”
Nieto spoke of talks over months to renew, modernize, and update the trade deal between the nations as it relates to NAFTA. “And to generate a framework that will boost… productivity in North America,” said Nieto through the translator. “It is our wish now Mr. President that now Canada will also be able to be incorporated in all this.” Nieto said he was sure the U.S. and Canada will begin bilateral meetings on sensitive trade topics to their relationship.
The Mexican President acknowledged both Mexico and the U.S. negotiating teams including Lighthizer’s team. He thanked the support of the White House through Kushner. He thanked his own team from Mexico as well.
Trump thanked the Mexican President as well and referenced his meeting with Nieto in Mexico during the 2016 presidential campaign. “This is something that is very special for our manufacturers and for our farmers from both countries,” said Trump. “It’s also great trade and it makes it a much more fair bill.”
President Trump shared in thanking both trade teams. He spoke of the complicated nature of and months-long efforts that went in to forging the United States-Mexico Trade Agreement. He said that the U.S. hasn’t started with Canada yet as they wanted to work with Mexico first. President Trump said that many claimed it couldn’t be done due to the factions and complexity involved. “We made it much simpler, much better, much better for both countries,” said Trump.
Trump said they will be starting negotiations with Canada very soon and the he will be calling the Canadian Prime Minister. “If they’d like to negotiate fairly we’ll do that. You know they have tariffs of almost 300 percent on some of our dairy products so we can’t have that, we’re not going to stand for that,” said Trump. He indicated that the U.S. may levy tariffs on Canadian auto imports to the U.S. He suggested a separate deal would likely be forged with Canada, but left room for the possibility of including Canada in the deal with Mexico.
“The media should know that the President and the President-elect [of Mexico] worked very closely together,” said Trump of the new trade deal, acknowledging that Mexico will soon have a new President.
“It’s an incredible deal for both parties, most importantly it’s an incredible deal for the workers and for the citizens of both countries,” said Trump. He said the “farmers will be so happy.”
Trump added that they will be working with China, but that it’s “not the right time to talk” with China right now.