President Donald Trump again threatened to tear up the North American Free Trade Agreement if Canada doesn’t concede to new terms.
In a Saturday morning tweet, Trump said there is “no political necessity to keep Canada in the new NAFTA deal,” referring to the tentative bilateral agreement the United States reached with Mexico earlier this week.
“If we don’t make a fair deal for the U.S. after decades of abuse,Canada will be out,” Trump said. He also urged Congress not to “interfere” with negotiations “or I will simply terminate NAFTA entirely & we will be far better off.”
The United States and Mexico announced a preliminary bilateral trade deal on Monday after resolving an issue over auto manufacturing. Canadian officials rejoined the talks this week.
But the fate of NAFTA became uncertain Friday when the United States and Canada failed to come to an agreement on rewriting the three-nation trade pact before a US-imposed deadline that would have allowed them to sign a new deal before Mexico’s president-elect, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, takes office on December 1.
Negotiations are scheduled to resume on Wednesday.
Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland said at a press conference Friday that she will continue to work for a trade deal that is in the country’s best interest. She said she believes a trilateral trade pact that benefits all three countries can be achieved.
“We know a win-win-win agreement is within reach and that’s what we’re working towards,” Freeland said.
Trump has repeatedly threatened to tear up NAFTA, saying the 24-year-old trade pact has cost American jobs. He’s also frequently complained that Canada is treating the United States unfairly.
The United States runs an overall trade surplus with Canada, one of its biggest trading partners.
Trump wants Canada to end its steep tariffs on US dairy products, claiming they hurt US farmers. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has pledged to protect his country’s dairy industry.
Trump on Friday also threatened new tariffs on Canadian cars if the country doesn’t comply with US-terms of a new trade deal.
The White House was required to give Congress an official 90-day notice before entering into a new trade deal. Since the administration notified Congress Friday, Trump will be allowed to sign the deal by November 30.
Even then, Congress could still block the deal. It’s unlikely any rewrite of NAFTA would come up for a vote until 2019. Procedure rules allow the president to sign the trade deal first, before Congress votes on it.
The text of the agreement does not have to be submitted to Congress until September 30.
The governments of Canada and Mexico must also ratify the agreement. If they don’t, there’s no deal.