Ali Dashti/The Santiago Times Staff
WASHINGTON – United States President Donald Trump has announced that his country has reached a preliminary bilateral trade deal with Mexico to replace the existing trilateral North American Free Trade Agreement that included Canada.
Trump announced the agreement as a “a big day for trade” and for the U.S. in a press conference in the Oval Office.
“Many people didn’t think that we will reach this moment because we negotiated hard as did Mexico. This is what we had to do,” the U.S. leader told reporters in his office.
He also urged that the deal not be named NAFTA because “it has a bad connotation because the U.S. was hurt for a long time by that deal”. Trump then called the agreement as “the commerce agreement between the U.S. and Mexico”.
The U.S. president also congratulated the outgoing Mexican president, Enrique Peña Nieto, for reaching the deal in a phone conversation in front of the press in his office at the White House.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) August 27, 2018
The government of the elected Mexican president Andres Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) has also welcomed what it’s called the “understanding” falling short of labeling it as a deal. Marcelo Ebrard, the AMLO’S proposed foreign minister has called the “understanding” with the U.S. a “positive step” in a statement.
Les comparto posicionamiento del gobierno electo respecto al entendimiento anunciado entre Mexico y Estados Unidos en materia del TLC el día de hoy. pic.twitter.com/g0ORBFFBGM
— Marcelo Ebrard C. (@m_ebrard) August 27, 2018
The preliminary deal leaves Canada out following a year of tough talks between the three north American countries.
Although Trump has not revealed the details of the new deal, some journalists are reporting that the U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has told them about the its terms. “The deal will last for 16 years and and will be reviews every 6 months”, writes Eamon Javers, the CNBC White House correspondent, on Twitter mentioning Lighthizer’s comments.
Lighthizer just briefed a few of us in the West Wing on the new Mexico trade deal. Calls it “an enormous deal.” Some highlights: deal will have a 16 year term, will be reviewed every 6 years.
— Eamon Javers (@EamonJavers) August 27, 2018
This new two-way deal could ratchet up the pressure on Canada to return to the negotiating table as Trump has threatened to raise tariffs on cars if Ottawa didn’t agree to negotiate fairly, according to the Politico.
The Trump administration needs to get the Congress approval before it put the new deal into effect. The process can take up to 180 days or six months, according to the U.S. media. However, the outgoing Mexican government has 98 days left at the office which could potentially complicate its path to replace the 24-year NAFTA deal.