President Donald Trump celebrated a trade deal with Canada and Mexico to replace NAFTA as a “historic” win that vindicated his strategy of threatening tariffs on trade partners.
“Without tariffs, we wouldn’t be talking about a deal — just for those babies out there that talk about tariffs,” Trump said Monday in a Rose Garden ceremony marking a successor deal to the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Trump called the accord “the most important trade deal we’ve ever made by far.” He predicted the agreement would “easily” pass Congress.
The new agreement makes modest revisions to a trade deal Trump once called a “disaster,” easing uncertainty for companies reliant on tariff-free commerce among the three countries.
Trump cited in particular provisions governing automobiles, raising the portion of their content that must originate within the region to 75 percent and requiring at least 40 percent of a car to come from workers whose pay averages more than $16 per hour. He called those rules “the most important thing” for him.
“We will be manufacturing many more cars,” Trump promised. “And our companies won’t be leaving the United States, firing their workers and building their cars elsewhere. They no longer have that incentive.”
Trump also called the agreement “a very, very big deal for our farmers.” He said the U.S. negotiated more favorable terms for exporting dairy and produce.
Trump said he would continue steel and aluminum tariffs on Mexico and Canada "until such time as we can do something different," adding that might include quotas, "so that our industry is protected."
U.S. and Canadian negotiators worked around the clock this weekend to secure an agreement just before a Sunday midnight deadline, allowing leaders from those nations and Mexico to sign the pact by late November. The 24-year-old NAFTA will now be superseded by the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA, covering a region that trades more than $1 trillion annually.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called it a “good day for Canada & our closest trading partners” in a tweet. Jesus Seade, the NAFTA negotiator for Mexican President-elect Andres Manuel López Obrador, said “Nafta 2 will give certainty and stability to trade.”