Trump wants separate trade pacts with Canada, Mexico, as chances of NAFTA deal вЂ?fall through the floorвЂ™
OTTAWA вЂ” Donald TrumpвЂ™s leading economic adviser says the president wants to strike separate, bilateral trade deals with Canada and Mexico rather than continue renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Larry Kudlow, the director of TrumpвЂ™s National Economic Council, says the president indicated that preference to him when they spoke on Monday.
Kudlow was speaking Tuesday on the Fox News morning program, Fox and Friends.
He also says he relayed that message to a senior member of the Prime Minister Justin TrudeauвЂ™s office.
The remarks are likely to create more economic uncertainty between Canada and the U.S. following TrumpвЂ™s imposition of steel and aluminum tariffs that now affect imports from this country, Mexico and Europe.
Kudlow said Trump doesnвЂ™t plan on withdrawing from NAFTA, but he wants to try a different approach.
вЂњYesterday we met with the president a couple times, and he is very seriously contemplating kind of a shift in the NAFTA negotiations,вЂќ Kudlow says.
вЂњHis preference now, and he asked me to convey this, is to actually negotiate with Mexico and Canada separately. He prefers bilateral negotiations and heвЂ™s looking at two much different countries.
Kudlow says Trump вЂњhates multilateralвЂќ treaties.
вЂњCanada is a different country than Mexico, they have different problems, and you know, heвЂ™s believed that bilaterals have always been better,вЂќ says Kudlow.
вЂњNow I know this is just three countries, but still, you know, oftentimes, when you have to compromise with a whole bunch of countries, you get the worst of the deals.
вЂњWhy not try to get the best of the deals for the American people, the American workforce, the American economy and presumably for their economies as well? As I said, Canada is whole lot different than Mexico.вЂќ
On Friday, just after the metals tariffs were put in place Trump floated the idea of negotiating separate bilateral trade pacts with Canada and Mexico, if no deal can be reached on modernizing the three-way NAFTA.
A senior official told The Canadian Press that the chances of striking any deal on NAFTA вЂ” ever вЂ” had вЂњjust fallen through the floor.вЂќ
вЂњThe government commitment remains NAFTA,вЂќ said one of several officials, all of whom spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of negotiations and efforts to manage deteriorating relations with the United States.вЂќ
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto renewed their commitment to NAFTA last week after the tariffs were imposed. Two two leaders вЂњagreed to continue working toward a mutually beneficial outcomeвЂќ on NAFTA, said TrudeauвЂ™s office.