President Trump announces a new deal with Mexico regarding NAFTA.
President Trump stretched the truth on Monday as he announced a tentative trade deal with Mexico — and painted it as a victory over what he has labeled the “worst trade deal maybe ever signed anywhere."
Trump has vowed since his days on the campaign trail to scrap the North American Free Trade Agreement, a three-way trade pact that includes the U.S., Canada and Mexico. He has derided the 1993 treaty as a job-killing agent that has wreaked havoc on the American economy.
Last year, the President even mulled over an executive order that would have started the process of pulling the U.S. out of the two-decade old deal.
However, Monday’s announcement, which included a few awkward moments of phone trouble, illustrated Trump’s ability to spin near-defeat and paint it as a win.
Trump tried his best to cast the still-ongoing negotiations as a boon for the U.S. as the new deal covers new trade rules for automobiles, intellectual property and labor rights. The deal, which doesn’t include Canada at the moment, doesn’t address metal tariffs Trump imposed earlier this year, needs the approval of Congress and it’s unclear if Mexico can sign off on the deal before the country’s new liberal-leaning president steps in on December 1.
“There are still a lot of questions left to be answered,” Peter MacKay, a former Canadian minister of justice, defense and foreign affairs who is now a partner at the law firm Baker McKenzie, told the Associated Press
Trump was quick to proclaim the agreement a triumph, pointing to Monday's surge in the stock market.
“We just signed a trade agreement with Mexico, and it's a terrific agreement for everybody,” he declared. “It's an agreement that a lot of people said couldn't be done."
Trump again called NAFTA a “rip-off,” even as he admitted that he has no power to simply bring it to an end as promised.
"It's a big day for trade, big day for our country. A lot of people thought we'd never get here, because we all negotiate tough," Trump said. “And this is a tremendous thing. This has to do -- they used to call it NAFTA. We're going to call it the United States-Mexico Trade Agreement, and we'll get rid of the name NAFTA.”
So, rather than terminate the trade deal he has blamed for sending American jobs overseas, he seems at peace with simply renaming the pact. Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto repeatedly referred to the agreement as NAFTA, undercutting Trump’s rebranding efforts.
Fellow Republicans were cautiously optimistic.
Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Tex.) said he looked forward "to carefully analyzing the details and consulting in the weeks ahead to determine whether the new proposal meets the trade priorities set out by Congress.”
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) hailed Monday's news as a "positive step," but said Canada needs to be part of a final deal.
"A trilateral agreement is the best path forward," Cornyn said, adding that millions of jobs were at stake.
The preemptive celebration was reminiscent of Trump’s claims of victory over Obamacare as he slowly attempted to dismantle his predecessor’s signature namesake legislation.
The Trump administration, despite the President’s promises of universal health care as a candidate, has yet to offer an alternative.Instead, Trump and his fellow Republicans have settled for taking apart former President Barack Obama’s effort to lower the number of uninsured Americans piece by piece.
Upon passage of the GOP-backed tax bill last fall, Trump boasted that the Republicans had finally ended the individual mandate, which penalized Americans who chose not to pay for health insurance.
"Obamacare has been repealed in this bill,” Trump bragged, obviously not bothered that the statement was patently false.
The major parts of the Affordable Care Act remain, such as the Medicaid expansion serving low-income adults, protections that shield people with pre-existing medical conditions and larger companies providing coverage or face fines, remain in place.