Trump notifies Congress of trade deal with Mexico


President Trump notified Congress on Friday of his plans to sign a trade agreement with Mexico to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), setting off a 90-day clock for the nations to sign the deal. 

The United States also is hoping to include Canada in the agreement even though they failed to meet Friday’s deadline imposed by Trump after long discussions this week to reach a deal.

“I intend to enter into a trade agreement with Mexico — and with Canada if it is willing, in a timely manner, to meet the high standards for free, fair, and reciprocal trade contained therein,” Trump said in the notice to the House.

{mosads}U.S. and Canadian negotiators will resume trade talks on Wednesday with the hopes of wrapping up a deal before the clock runs out.

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters on Friday afternoon that the U.S. and Canada are making progress “but we are not there yet.”

“Once we have a good deal for Canada we’ll be done,” she said.

Without Canada in the agreement Congress won’t approve an updated 24-year-old NAFTA deal. 

U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas Donohue said on Friday that “anything other than a trilateral agreement won’t win congressional approval and would lose business support.” 

Congress won’t have a chance to consider the deal until at least next year. 

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said the “talks were constructive, and we made progress.”

“Our officials are continuing to work toward agreement,” Lighthizer said.

Getting a deal done within three months would give outgoing Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto a chance to sign the agreement before leaving office at the end of November.

“Replacing this agreement with one or two bilateral agreements negates NAFTA’s benefits and risks harming American companies, workers and consumers,” said Dean Garfield, president and CEO of the Information Technology Industry Council, whose clients range from Amazon to Visa.

“Any such changes to the existing NAFTA agreement would be highly disruptive to global supply chains and to the regional economy,” Garfield said.

Congressional lawmakers and U.S. and Canadian business groups are arguing that it is imperative to have all three nations in the deal because of the complex trading system NAFTA set up nearly 25 years ago. 

Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden, ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee said “it is premature for the president to announce he intends to sign a trade agreement when so many difficult issues remain unresolved.”

“It sure looks like the president is more concerned with announcing a deal during election season, rather than getting the best deal possible for American workers, based on his rush to make an announcement before negotiations are close to complete.”

The president announced a two-way deal with Mexico on Monday and at the time put into doubt whether Canada may be able to join the agreement. 

“We will see whether or not we decide to put up Canada or just do a separate deal with Canada, if they want to make the deal,” Trump said.

Earlier on Friday, the Toronto Star released off-the-record comments President Trump made about Canada on Thursday during an Oval Office interview with Bloomberg.

Trump said he would not give Canada any concessions in the talks and that a possible deal on trade with Canada would be “totally on our terms.”

Despite the rough start to the morning’s discussions, Canadian officials said they were making progress but there was disagreement on dairy and investor-state dispute rules.

Updated at 5:58 p.m.

Tags Donald Trump Robert Lighthizer Ron Wyden

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