After reports that President Donald Trump was considering an executive order to withdraw the United States from the North American Free Trade Agreement, the White House said Wednesday that Trump agreed not to take such action after phone calls with the leaders of Canada and Mexico.
Since launching his bid for president, Trump has repeatedly criticized the nation’s trade deals, especially NAFTA, saying the agreement signed in 1994 has been a “disaster” and allowed many U.S. jobs to shift to Mexico.
“President Trump agreed to not terminate NAFTA at this time, and the leaders agreed to proceed swiftly, according to their required internal procedures, to enable renegotiation of the NAFTA deal to the benefit of all three countries,” the White House said.
The statement further said Trump is honored to work with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, and that he believes the renegotiation process will make the three countries stronger.
A Mexican government statement confirmed the phone call between Trump and Peña Nieto, saying the leaders agreed on the convenience of maintaining NAFTA and working with Canada to bring about successful negotiations for the benefit of the three nations.
Earlier Wednesday, a Canadian foreign ministry spokesman said Canada is “ready to come to the table at any time.”
Trump targeted Canada this week for what he said was unfair trade practices, and ordered a new 20 percent tariff on Canadian lumber exports.
Many Mexican officials have called NAFTA a disappointment, saying it has brought slow economic growth despite increased investment in factories and industry.