WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump on Monday celebrated a revised North American trade deal with Canada and Mexico as a return of the United States to a "manufacturing powerhouse," vowing to sign the agreement by late November.
But the president noted that the deal would need to be ratified by Congress, a step that could be complicated by the outcome of the fall congressional elections. When told he seemed confident of congressional approval, he said he was "not at all confident" but felt ratification would be granted if lawmakers took the correct action.
"Anything you submit to Congress is trouble no matter what," Trump said, predicting that Democrats would say, "Trump likes it so we're not going to approve it."
Trump embraced the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement during a Rose Garden ceremony, branding the pact the "USMCA." The president said the name has a "good ring to it," repeating U-S-M-C-A several times.
Iowa's junior U.S. Senator Joni Ernst issued the following statement on the proposed deal:
“This trade deal is welcome news for Iowa farmers and ranchers, who for too long have suffered from the ongoing trade disputes and plummeting commodity prices. President Trump is making good on his promise to get deals done that will boost confidence, provide certainty and unleash optimism across farm country in Iowa and the rest of the U.S."
“Mexico, Canada and the U.S. make up one of the most competitive and successful regional economic platforms in the world. I’ve been pushing the Administration to finalize pending trade deals, and they have done just that; I look forward to reviewing the deal in full, and understanding its impact on Iowa’s economy including manufacturing and other industries.”
The agreement was forged just before a midnight deadline imposed by the U.S. to include Canada in a deal reached with Mexico late in the summer. It replaces the 24-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement, which Trump has lambasted as a job-wrecking disaster that has hollowed out the nation's industrialized base.
Flanked by Cabinet members, Trump said the pact is the "most important deal we've ever made by far," covering $1.2 trillion in trade. The president said his administration had not yet agreed to lift tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada, a contentious issue between the two neighbors.
For Trump, the agreement reached in the weeks before the November congressional elections offers vindication for his hardline trade policies that have roiled relations with China, the European Union and America's North American neighbors while causing concerns among Midwest farmers and manufacturers worried about retaliation.
Trump's advisers view the trade pact as a political winner in Midwest battleground states critical to the president's 2016 victory and home to tens of thousands of auto workers and manufacturers who could benefit from the changes.
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds released the following statement on the proposed pact:
“I am excited to hear news of this United States-Mexico-Canada agreement."
“NAFTA has been good for agriculture, but a modernized agreement could provide better gains for Iowa farmers. Strengthening trade with Canada and Mexico provides more certainty to our Iowa farmers and the agribusinesses sector."
“I am also encouraged by agreements reached with Argentina and KORUS, by continued discussions with the EU and by reignited negotiations with Japan. Our farmers and manufacturers need access to free and fair trade to sell their products, which are among the best in the world."
“As a steadfast champion for Iowa agriculture and Iowa products, I will continue to advocate for increased opportunities to market our products around the globe. It is my hope the momentum generated today will provide more certainty for our farmers during this harvest."
“Last year, 30.58% of Iowa’s exports went to Canada and 16.94% went to Mexico, making them our two largest trading partners. Canada and Mexico were in the top five importers of Iowa manufactured goods and value-added agricultural products, and they were No. 1 and No. 2 for agriculture.”
Trump said he would sign the final agreement in late November, in about 60 days, and the pact is expected to be signed by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and outgoing Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto before he leaves office Dec. 1. Trump said he spoke to Trudeau by phone and told reporters that their recent tensions didn't affect the deal-making. "He's a professional. I'm a professional," Trump said, calling it a "fair deal."
Pena Nieto will be replaced by President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, whose incoming administration said the deal would offer more certainty for financial markets, investment and job creation.
Ratifying the deal is likely to stretch into 2019 because once Trump and the leaders from Canada and Mexico sign the agreement, the administration and congressional leaders will need to write legislation to implement the deal and win passage in Congress.
Trump threatened to go ahead with a revamped NAFTA, with or without Canada. It was unclear, however, whether Trump had authority from Congress to pursue a revamped NAFTA with only Mexico.
NAFTA tore down most trade barriers between the United States, Canada and Mexico, leading to a surge in trade among them. But Trump and other critics said it encouraged manufacturers to move south of the border to take advantage of low Mexican wages, costing American jobs.
Americans for Farmers & Families spokesman Casey Guernsey issued the following statement on the proposed agreement:
“In 2016, farmers like me supported Candidate Trump in part because of his promise to stand up for rural America and ensure our voices were heard. Today’s announcement shows that President Trump has not forgotten about his promise. Following the US-Mexico deal, farmers urged for continued progress, it’s clear that the administration took our appeal to heart.”
“The significance of reaching an agreement with both Mexico and Canada cannot be overstated. Since its implementation in 1994, our trade deal with the two countries, the North American Free Trade Agreement, has brought unprecedented economic success to the United States – not only through strong job growth, higher wages and low consumer prices, but also by allowing America’s food and agricultural industry to thrive. In 2017 alone, the industry supported 43 million jobs and exported more than $44 billion worth of goods to Mexico and Canada.”
“Whether you breed cattle in Missouri like my family, raise hogs in North Carolina, grow corn in Iowa or simply shop at a local grocery store in New York, this announcement means that we will soon have the certainty we need to continue feeding our own and families around the world.”
“After years of declining income and months of trade uncertainty, farmers desperately needed a win, and today the Trump Administration delivered it. While eager to learn the details, I hope that Congress will use this positive momentum to bring this important agreement over the finish line.”