Report: White House officials asked Trudeau to plead NAFTA's case to Trump

Report: White House officials asked Trudeau to plead NAFTA's case to Trump
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White House officials enlisted Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to help convince President Trump not to unilaterally withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), according to a Monday report.

The unique and potentially embarrassing approach, which was first reported by Canada’s National Post, apparently worked. Following phone calls with Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, Trump backed off of reported plans to pull out of NAFTA last month.

Instead, Trump announced that he would renegotiate the 23-year-old deal among the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

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Trade tensions rose at the end of last month after the U.S. slapped a 20 percent tariff on Canadian softwood lumber.

The threat of a departure from NAFTA brought expressions of concern from the agricultural sector, lawmakers on Capitol Hill, business groups and labor unions.

Trump, who is highly skeptical of free trade agreements, threatened to spike NAFTA more than once during his presidential campaign. Rumors that the U.S. might leave the three-nation deal led to two pivotal phone calls between Trump and the leaders of the neighboring nations.

Multiple Canadian government sources told the National Post that White House advisers who favored staying in the deal reached out to Trudeau to press the case.

“You never know how much of it is theatre, but it didn’t feel that way,” one senior Canadian diplomatic source said. “Maybe they’re just learning how to be a government. At least they were open to the conversation, and that stopped them doing something rash and destructive.”