PHOENIX — President Trump says he’s not optimistic about the future of America’s free trade deal with Canada and Mexico.
“I think we’ll probably end up terminating NAFTA at some point,” he said during a rally at the Phoenix Convention Center in Arizona on Tuesday night.
Leaders from the U.S., Canada and Mexico officially began renegotiating NAFTA last week.
Trump frequently blasted NAFTA on the campaign trail, labeling it the “worst trade deal in history” and blaming it for the loss of manufacturing jobs in America’s Rust Belt.
But after taking office, Trump agreed to renegotiate the pact rather than moving to kill it straight away. He made the decision in April after talking to the leaders of Canada and Mexico.
Terminating NAFTA would be “a pretty big shock to the system,” Trump admitted. He warned, though, that it could still happen if he is “unable to make a fair deal.”
Negotiations between the three countries got off to a tense start last week in Washington.
“For countless Americans, this agreement has failed,” U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said at a news conference. “We cannot ignore the huge trade deficits, the lost manufacturing jobs, the businesses that have closed or moved because of incentives, intended or not, in the current agreement.”
He noted, though, that NAFTA has benefited many Americans, such as farmers, and said the U.S., Canada and Mexico have a strong friendship.
A great deal is at stake. Millions of jobs and thousands of companies rely on NAFTA. U.S. consumers benefit hugely from free trade, but many factory workers say they’ve gotten a raw deal, with their jobs outsourced to Mexico.