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Trump's 100th day in office falls on Saturday

He has pledged to take action on NAFTA

Washington CNN  — 

President Donald Trump said Thursday his administration is already beginning to renegotiate NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement.

“It’s actually starting today,” Trump said of the negotiations.

The problem is, that’s not possible.

Before entering into formal negotiations with Canada and Mexico to renegotiate the free trade accord, Trump must first provide notice of his intent to renegotiate the trade deal. He has yet to do so. That move would kick off a 90-day period of consultation with Congress and industry groups before officially entering talks with the NAFTA partners.

Despite what Trump said, it’s clear his administration is aware of the 90-day rule.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told reporters last month that he hoped to send the letter notifying Congress of the plan to enter NAFTA renegotiations “sometime in the next couple of weeks.”

“That’s what triggers the beginnings of the formal process itself,” Ross said on March 10, alongside Mexico’s economy minister.

The White House plans to “pull the trigger” early next week to formally begin renegotiation of the trade agreement, a senior administration official said Thursday.

The Trump administration last month circulated a draft letter on NAFTA renegotiations but has yet to give official notice.

Without it, Trump would lose “fast-track” negotiating authority that mandates Trump get only a simple majority in Congress to approve of the new deal – a politically untenable position given the controversial nature of some of his trade positions.

Mexico, meanwhile, started a 90-day internal consultation period in February. The government has been meeting with leaders and the business community to discuss NAFTA and will hit the 90-day mark next month.

CNN’s Jeff Zeleny and Leyla Santiago contributed to this report.