President Donald Trump is again threatening to jettison the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). At a rally in Phoenix, Arizona Tuesday night, Trump told jubilant supporters that he was losing faith that a deal could be struck between the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
“Personally, I don’t think we can make a deal. I think we’ll probably end up terminating NAFTA at some point,” Trump said, adding, “I personally don’t think you can make a deal without a termination.”
That could mean starting from scratch — if there is the political will to do so.
Though the threat didn’t raise too many eyebrows in the U.S., the story is front page news in Canada, where the Trudeau government has been waging a diplomatic and charming offensive on the Trump administration since January.
Trump made the remarks following the first round of negotiations that have apparently ended in failure.
Trudeau has not immediately responded to Trump’s remarks, but Mexican foreign minister Luis Videgaray took to Twitter to suggest it was all no big deal: “No surprises: we’re already in a negotiation. Mexico will remain at the table with serenity, firmness and with the national interest ahead.”
The renegotiation efforts will move to Mexico at the beginning of September and then to Canada later in the month.
But a former trade representative with the Barack Obama adminstration told the Toronto Star that Trump was exhibiting “terrible timing” by making the threat last night and earlier in April.
“It was, at minimum, terrible timing. You do that at the 11th hour in the negotiation — not at the throat clearing stage…I suspect President Trump will be unable to play that card again And if he does play it, it won’t be as strong as it would’ve been,” Robert Holleyman said, noting that Trump cannot unilaterally tear up NAFTA because it is a treaty that Congress first approved and then must terminate.