WASHINGTON – US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that if ongoing talks with Canada and Mexico on revising the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement fall short, he would be open to reaching a bilateral accord with the Canadians.
“So we’ll see what happens with NAFTA, but I’ve been opposed to NAFTA for a long time. In terms of the fairness of NAFTA, I said we’ll renegotiate,” Trump told reporters at the White House while sitting next to visiting Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“And I think Justin understands this: If we can’t make a deal, it’ll be terminated and that will be fine,” the president said.
Trump welcomed Trudeau as teams led by US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Mexican Economy Secretary Ildefonso Guajardo and Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland were gathered in nearby Arlington, Virginia, for the fourth round of talks on revising the trade pact.
Prospects for the success of the negotiations appear to have grown dimmer as Washington has demanded controversial changes, such as the addition to NAFTA of a “sunset clause” that would require the treaty to be reaffirmed by all three signatories every five years in order to remain in effect.
When asked by a reporter whether he would be interested in pursuing a bilateral accord with Canada if the NAFTA negotiations reach a dead end, Trump replied: “Oh, sure. Absolutely. It’s possible we won’t be able to reach a deal with one or the other. But in the meantime, we’ll make a deal with one.”
The president added, however, that he thought there was “a chance to do something very creative that’s good for Canada, Mexico, and the United States.”