White House readies order to quit NAFTA

Canada US trade relations souring as American politicians threaten the stability that NAFTA brought to North American cross border industries. Dairy is a hot button issue, along with softwood lumber.  |  Michael Raine photo

UPDATE: President Donald Trump’s tweets later in the day appear to have altered the focus of the administration’s attitude toward NAFTA.

Trump says NAFTA deal with Canada, Mexico, is ‘very possible’

WASHINGTON, April 27 (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday that renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement with neighboring Canada and Mexico was “very possible,” but he threatened to scrap the pact if the countries failed to reach a “fair deal for all.”

“I received calls from the President of Mexico and the Prime Minister of Canada asking to renegotiate NAFTA rather than terminate,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “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!”

The following is the story from earlier in the day April 27.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Reuters) — A draft executive order to withdraw the United States from the North American Free Trade Agreement is under consideration, a senior Trump administration official said today, confirming an earlier report from Politico.

It was unclear whether the order would be enacted by President Donald Trump, who has vowed to pull out from NAFTA — a U.S., Mexico and Canada trade pact — if he cannot win better terms for America.

Trump has accused Mexico of destroying U.S. jobs, and this week he set 20 percent tariffs on imports of Canadian softwood lumber, setting a tense tone as the three countries prepared to renegotiate the 23-year-old trade pact.

Last week, Trump also called Canada’s dairy protections “unfair.”

Mexico had expected to start NAFTA renegotiations in August, but the possible executive order could add urgency to the timeline.

Trump criticized Mexico extensively during his presidential campaign. The United States went from running a small trade surplus with Mexico in the early 1990s to a $63 billion deficit in 2016.

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