Trump Hails NAFTA Replacement as Victory for US Manufacturers

October 1, 2018 Updated: October 1, 2018

WASHINGTON–President Donald Trump congratulated Canada and Mexico on Oct. 1, for reaching a deal to replace NAFTA, lauding the new agreement as a boon for American manufacturers and farmers and a win for all three nations.

The deal, announced on Sept. 30, is a reworking of the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement, which underpins $1.2 trillion in trade between the three countries. Trump had described NAFTA as a bad deal for Americans and promised to eliminate it as part of his “America First” agenda.

The new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) is aimed at bringing more jobs into the United States, with Canada and Mexico accepting more restrictive commerce with the United States, their main export partner.

Trump called the U.S. agreement with its neighbor to the north “wonderful” and “a historic transaction.”

“It is a great deal for all three countries, solves the many deficiencies and mistakes in NAFTA, greatly opens markets to our Farmers and Manufacturers, reduce Trade Barriers to the U.S. and will bring all three Great Nations closer together in competition with the rest of the world,” Trump wrote.

The new agreement largely leaves the broad deal intact and maintains current supply chains that would have been fractured under weaker bilateral deals.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Sept. 30 called it “a good day for Canada” after negotiators worked frantically ahead of the U.S.-imposed midnight deadline. He is scheduled to speak to reporters at noon on Oct. 1.

The pact preserved a key trade dispute settlement mechanism sought by Canada even as Ottawa agreed to open up its dairy markets to U.S. farmers. It will also make it harder for global automakers to build cars cheaply in Mexico.

Trump vowed during his 2016 presidential campaign to tear up current U.S. trade deals, which he blamed for a loss of U.S. manufacturing jobs. His administration has abandoned other trade accords and slapped tariffs on a number of key trading partners, particularly China.

“It’s a promise made, promise kept,” Peter Navarro, the White House trade adviser, told Fox News on Monday. “NAFTA is dead. We have USMCA.”

The United States and Mexico clinched a bilateral agreement in late August that left a door open for Canada to join. Washington and Ottawa immediately began negotiations that culminated in a deal just before midnight on Sept. 30.

U.S. officials intend to sign the new trilateral deal by Nov. 30, Navarro said.

It would then be submitted for approval by the U.S. Congress, currently controlled by Trump’s fellow Republicans.

U.S. Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa, a top farming state, praised the agreement in a tweet on Oct. 1: “Our farmers need stability and access to markets.”

Democratic U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, a border state with Canada, also tweeted: “I’m glad MN’s number one trading partner Canada is back in the mix. Looking forward to reviewing terms.”

Reuters contributed to this report.

Follow Ivan on Twitter: @ivanpentchoukov
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