WASHINGTON – US President Donald Trump called on Tuesday the complicated legal process standing in the way of renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Mexico ridiculous, and again threatened to scrap the pact unless some big changes are made.
“We have all sorts of rules and regulations that are horrendous,” Trump said during a speech at a tool factory in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
“Like we want to start to negotiate with Mexico immediately, and we have these provisions where you have to wait long periods of time, you have to notify Congress, and after you notify Congress, you have to get certified, and then you can’t speak to them for 100 days. The whole thing is ridiculous,” Trump said.
The president was apparently referring to the process established by the current US law that gives the president special powers to negotiate trade deals.
That process rules that the chief executive must inform Congress 90 days ahead of time of his intention to revise a previous accord, and present his project before the respective committees of both houses of Congress: the House of Representatives and the Senate.
The Commerce Department has not yet stated whether such notification has been sent to Congress, though Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross had said he intended to do so before the legislative recess in April, which has already begun.
“NAFTA has been very, very bad for our country. 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 for once and for all. Cannot continue like this, believe me,” Trump said on Tuesday.
“The fact is, NAFTA has been a disaster for the United States – a complete and total disaster,” he said.
The NAFTA trade treaty, signed in 1994 by the US, Canada and Mexico, includes a clause allowing its members to withdraw, but they must first give a six-month notice.
The wish expressed Tuesday by Trump to begin as soon as possible the process of renegotiating the trade deal with Mexico falls in line with priorities expressed by the Mexican government, which prefers to complete the process this year, because otherwise it could be affected by the campaign leading up to Mexico’s 2018 elections.
“We think there are better conditions for reaching a commercial agreement with the United States or any other nation in 2017,” said Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray during a visit to Washington early this month.