President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he does not plan to immediately withdraw the US from the North American Free Trade Agreement, in phone calls with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada and President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico. Trump said many times during his campaign that NAFTA was a bad deal for American workers.
In a description of the call, The White House said the president “agreed not to terminate NAFTA at this time and the leaders agreed to proceed swiftly, according to their required internal procedures, to enable the renegotiation of the NAFTA deal to the benefit of all three countries.”
The conversations were described by the White House as “pleasant and productive.”
Earlier the same day, a senior White House official said Trump was considering an executive order withdrawing the US from the trade pact. Before a meeting with the president of Argentina, Trump told reporters:
“I decided rather than terminating NAFTA, which would be a pretty big, you know, shock to the system, we will renegotiate.”
He added though that if he is “unable to make a fair deal,” his administration will still readily “terminate NAFTA.”
“We’re going to give renegotiation a good, strong shot,” he said.
The update on trumps NAFTA plans comes as the president nears the end of his term’s first hundred days. His administration is trying to ensure progress has been made on a list of campaign promises, which included a pledge to either withdraw from, or renegotiate NAFTA. In his first days in office, Trump fulfilled another pledge to remove the US from the Trans Pacific Partnership, another pending trade deal.
The announcement that Trump was considering a withdrawal from the deal garnered warnings from key Republicans.
According to statement from Senator Ben Sasse, of Nebraska:
“Scrapping NAFTA would be a disastrously bad idea. It would hurt American families at the checkout, and it would cripple American producers in the field and the office. Yes, there are places where our agreements could be modernized but here’s the bottom line: trade lowers prices for American consumers and it expands markets for American goods. Risking trade wars is reckless, not wise.”
Senator John McCain said of a plan to withdraw from NAFTA, “It will devastate the economy in my state. I hope he doesn’t do that.”
According to the US Chamber of Commerce, around 14 million American jobs depend on trade with Canada and Mexico.