U.S. President Donald Trump is taking a victory lap at the White House, cheering Sunday’s last-minute free trade deal, pronouncing the death of the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement — and playing down “tensions” with Justin Trudeau.
Trump acknowledged he and the prime minister have been at odds in recent weeks — but said it was all because of NAFTA, and is over now that the two countries have agreed to a new continental trade pact, christened the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.
“There was a lot of tension between he and I … but it all ended around 12 o’clock last night” when the new deal was reached, Trump told a news conference in the White House Rose Garden.
“The only problem with Justin is he loves his people, and he’s fighting hard for his people. I think Justin’s a good person who’s doing a good job.”
Trump also refused to be pinned down on whether he intends to ease Section 232 tariffs on Canadian exports of steel and aluminum, saying at once that the tariffs remain in place, but they won’t be necessary as long as Canada and Mexico honour the terms of the new agreement.
Late last night, our deadline, we reached a wonderful new Trade Deal with Canada, to be added into the deal already reached with Mexico. The new name will be The United States Mexico Canada Agreement, or USMCA. It is a great deal for all three countries, solves the many……
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 1, 2018
The tariff measure “is still staying where it is,” he said, adding, “but I don’t think you will need to use the tariffs.”
Trump, flanked by trade ambassador Robert Lighthizer, adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner and a who’s who of his inner circle, called the new agreement the most important trade deal the U.S. has ever made.
The deal, reached late Sunday, will govern $1.2 trillion US in trade, making it the biggest agreement in the country’s history, and marks the end of an era during which the U.S. has been “treated so badly” on trade by other countries around the world, the president said.
He said the new deal treats American workers with ”fairness and reciprocity,” unlike NAFTA, which he again described as the worst deal ever agreed to by the United States.
And he cheered the fact it will give American farmers and dairy producers greater access to markets in Canada and Mexico, protect auto manufacturing jobs and encourage innovation on U.S. soil.
Trump said he spoke earlier today with Trudeau and outgoing Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto, and also extended thanks to Pena Nieto’s replacement, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
The Canadian Press