North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) could be renegotiated, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Thursday after Donald Trump, who wanted to change or scrap the deal, was elected U.S. president.
During the campaign, Trump called NAFTA the worst trade deal the United States has ever signed, while proposing protectionist measures to repatriate American jobs lost to free trade.
“I think it’s important that we be open to talking about trade deals,”
Trudeau told reporters.
“If the Americans want to talk about NAFTA, I’m more than happy to talk about it,”
he said, adding that it was important to periodically reassess trade deals to ensure that they continue to be of benefit to Canadians.
The 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) binds 530 million consumers in Canada, the United States and Mexico.
Bilateral trade crossing the U.S.-Canadian border amounts to $1.8 billion daily.
Thirty-four U.S. states rely on trade with Canada, which supports 9 million American jobs, while exports to the United States represent 20 percent of Canada’s GDP.
Mexico is also willing to discuss NAFTA with Trump but may seek to circumvent the United States on a broader trans-Pacific deal if necessary, a top official said on Thursday.
Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said Mexico aims to persuade Trump how beneficial NAFTA had been for North America, despite the American’s criticism of the deal.“We’re ready to talk so we can explain the strategic importance of NAFTA for the region. Here we’re not talking about … renegotiating it, we’re simply talking about dialogue,”
Trump says the NAFTA favors Mexico at the expense of U.S. workers and has vowed to either rewrite or withdraw from the deal, as well as build a giant border wall and possibly slap steep tariffs on imports.
Since the treaty took effect in 1994, Mexican exports to the United States have jumped six-fold to some $320 billion a year, transforming a once-closed economy into a hub for investment and a workshop for some of the world’s biggest companies.
Trump has threatened to impose tariffs of up to 35 percent on Mexican-made goods and said he would scrap NAFTA if he cannot renegotiate what he calls the “worst deal ever.”
His victory has also put new pressure on automakers and other manufacturers that have become dependent on open trade with Mexico.