The White House said President Donald Trump plans to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement rather than immediately terminating it.
“I decided rather than terminating NAFTA, which would be a pretty big, you know, shock to the system, we will renegotiate,” Trump said in the Oval Office alongside Argentine President Mauricio Macri on Thursday, adding:
“Now, if I'm unable to make a fair deal, if I'm unable to make a fair deal for the United States, meaning a fair deal for our workers and our companies, I will terminate NAFTA. But we're going to give renegotiation a good, strong shot.”
The statement came a day after the president's calls with with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in which Trump “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.”
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer emphasized that “[t]he president also made it clear if they are unable to agree on a deal that is fair to American workers and companies, after giving renegotiation a good shot, he will move forward with termination.”
Trump zeroed in on the renegotiation of trade deals since his presidential campaign and, in his very early days in office, withdrew the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
In Wisconsin last week, Trump touted his promise to adjust the terms of NAFTA in favor of the United States, saying:
“It's been very, very bad for our companies and for our workers, and we're going to make some very big changes, or we are going to get rid of NAFTA once and for all.”
The news comes after Politico reported on a draft order to withdraw from NAFTA earlier this week.