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US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump (R) speaks during a press conference with President of Mexico Enrique Pena Nieto (L) in Los Pinos, Mexico City, Mexico, 31 August 2016. EPA/JORGE NUNEZ
US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump (R) speaks during a press conference with President of Mexico Enrique Pena Nieto (L) in Los Pinos, Mexico City, Mexico, 31 August 2016. EPA/JORGE NUNEZ

Donald Trump to stick with free trade pact with Mexico and Canada – for now

The President of the United States Wednesday agreed with his Mexican counterpart and Canadian Prime Minister to immediately begin renegotiations on the North…

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The White House announced this week that the United States will not unilaterally withdraw from Nafta, the free trade agreement with Canada and Mexico, after repeated rumours that Donald Trump was planning to pull out of the deal and had put Mexican's economy on alert.

One of Trump’s key themes during his presidential campaign was his scepticism of free trade, in particular, the “bad deals” which he believed the United States had negotiated with other countries.  The US President has marked as a priority to create jobs for Americans in America, following his motto "America First". 

In a joint statement between Trump, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto on Wednesday, the White House said: “President Trump agreed not to terminate Nafta at this time.”

However, the statement added “the leaders agreed to proceed swiftly, according to their required internal procedures, to enable the renegotiation of the Nafta dealto the benefit of all three countries”.

Nafta had long come under particular criticism from Trump, who has spent a big part of his 100 days in office to insult Mexico, threatening to build a border wall and take further fiscal measures to favour the US auto industry to relocate from Mexico to America.

 On Tuesday, Mexican foreign minister Luis Videgaray slammed Trump’s plans for a border wall between the United States and Mexico as “a hostile act” on Tuesday and insisted yet again, contrary to Trump’s campaign promises, that Mexico would not pay for the wall. With Canada, Trump announced a new tariff on softwood lumber on Tuesday that triggered concerns of a potential trade war between the two countries. He warned that “people don’t realise Canada’s been very rough on the United States ... they’ve outsmarted our politicians for years”.

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