President Donald Trump puts more pressure on Mexico and Canada regarding NAFTA, by suggesting that he could exclude those two countries from steel and aluminum tariffs if the parties reach a new “fair” trade pact .
While ministers from Mexico, Canada and the United States met in the Mexican capital to culminate the 7th round of negotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the president was on the offensive.
“We are not going to back down, there will be steel tariffs for Canada and for Mexico, ” he told reporters when he received the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, in the Oval Room.
Trump, who said last week that trade wars were “good and easy to win,” clearly suggested that Mexico and Canada will only be safe from heavy tariffs if they agree to make concessions at the NAFTA negotiating table.
“Taxes on steel and aluminum will be withdrawn only if a new agreement is signed,” he said earlier on Twitter, reiterating his conviction that the United States has “large trade deficits” with its two neighbors.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responded by noting in a phone call with Trump his “serious concerns” about the tariffs and noting that such measures “would not facilitate an agreement on NAFTA,” according to a Canadian government statement.
In Mexico, the main US negotiator, Robert Lighthizer, said that the revision of the pact was slower than expected with only six chapters completed with 30 pending, since the parties began negotiations in August 2017.
“We have not achieved the progress we expected,” he said.
Last week, Trump had generated an endless global controversy by announcing the adoption of heavy tariffs on imports of steel (25%) and aluminum (10%), measures that would especially impact Canada, the largest steel supplier in the US market. .
This Monday he released his oratorical battery against Canadians and Mexicans: to the neighbors of the north for their commercial policy and to those of the south for considering that they do not do enough in the fight against drugs.
“Scammed by friends”
Along with Netanyahu, Trump reiterated that the United States “did a bad business deal” with the NAFTA, in force since 1994.
The United States has a trade deficit of “800,000 million dollars, we have been scammed all over the world, by friends and enemies,” he said, to point out a deficit of “500,000 million dollars” with China.
These statements, however, are not highlighted by precision: in 2017 the US trade deficit was 566,000 million dollars (375,000 with China), being that the record was a deficit of 708,000 million in 2008, according to official data.
With Mexico, the United States has a trade deficit, which in 2016 reached 63,000 million dollars and in the first three quarters of 2017 reached 52,000 million dollars.
Meanwhile, with Canada the United States had a surplus of about 8,000 million dollars in 2016, and reached 3,000 million dollars in the first three quarters of 2017.
“If there are restrictions, Canada will take measures to defend its commercial interests and we will continue to defend the steel and aluminum workers,” Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said at a press conference at the close of the seventh NAFTA negotiating round.
For his part, the Mexican economy secretary, Ildefonso Guajardo, said that his government will wait until there is a US decree on the matter.
“It is important with this administration to expect them to go from the speech and tweets to the facts, there is still no presidential decree,” he told reporters.