President Donald Trump announcing a trade “understanding” with Mexico that could lead to an overhaul of the North American Free Trade Agreement. PRESIDENT Trump made the announcement Monday in the Oval Office, with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto joining by speakerphone.
Remarks by President Trump in Phone Call with President Peña Nieto of Mexico on the United States-Mexico Trade Agreement
11:09 A.M. EDT
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Hello everybody. It’s a big day for trade, a big day for our country. A lot of people thought we’d never get here because we all negotiate tough. We do, and so does Mexico. And this is a tremendous thing.
This has to do — they used to call it NAFTA. We’re going to call it the United States-Mexico Trade Agreement, and we’ll get rid of the name NAFTA. It has a bad connotation because the United States was hurt very badly by NAFTA for many years. And now it’s a really good deal for both countries, and we look very much forward to it.
And I believe the President is on the phone. Enrique? You can hook him up. Tell me when.
How are you? It’s a big thing. A lot of people waiting. Hello? Do you want to put that on this phone, please? Hello? Be helpful.
PRESIDENT PEÑA NIETO: (As interpreted.) President Trump, how are you? Good morning.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you, Enrique. And congratulations. That’s really a fantastic thing. We’ve all worked very hard, and your brilliant representatives are sitting right in front of me. And I thought we would congratulate each other before it got out. And I know we’ll have a formal news conference in the not-too-distant future.
PRESIDENT PEÑA NIETO: (As interpreted.) Thank you very much, President Trump. I think this is something very positive for the United States and Mexico. And the first reason for this call, Mr. President, is, first of all, to celebrate the understanding we have had between both negotiating peace on NAFTA, in the interest we have had for quite a few months now to renew it, to modernize it, to update it, and to generate a framework that will boost and potentiate productivity in North America.
It is our wish, Mr. President, that now Canada will also be able to be incorporated in all this. And I assume that they going to carry out negotiations of the sensitive bilateral issues between Mexico — rather, between Canada and the United States.
And I’m really grateful, Mr. President. I want to say that you — I greatly recognize and acknowledge your political will and your participation in this. And on this paved path, I want to bear my testimony, Mr. President, and my acknowledgement to both negotiating teams, especially the team that is headed and led by Mr. Robert Lighthizer, and also the accompaniment and the support we have had from the White House through Jared Kushner.
And I also extend this recognition to the Mexican team. They are listening to you. They are close to you right now — Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray and the Secretary of the Economy, Mr. Guajardo.
Yes, in terms of (inaudible) the negotiations that have taken months, it’s been difficult, complex, and a very hard negotiation altogether with difficult moments, of course. But I truly acknowledge now the fact that we’ve been able to reach an agreement that we are about to make public. And this is the result of good understanding and good work. And I — of course, I am quite hopeful that now Canada would start discussing with the United States the sensitive bilateral issue.
Congratulations, President Trump. I am very grateful and I am attentive to your comments.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, Mr. President, thank you very much. It’s an honor. You’ve been my friend. It’s been a long time since I traveled to Mexico, where we got to know each other quite well and we actually had a good meeting. Some people weren’t sure if it was a good meeting, but I was.
I have a lot of good meetings that a lot of people aren’t sure if they were good or not.
But it’s been a long time, and this is something that’s very special for our manufacturers and for our farmers from both countries, for all of the people that work for jobs. It’s also great trade and it makes it a much more fair bill. And we are very, very excited about it.
We have worked long and hard. Your representatives have been terrific. My representatives have been fantastic too. They’ve gotten along very well, and they’ve worked late into the night for months. It’s an extremely complex bill and it’s something that I think will be talked about for many years to come. It’s just good for both countries.
As far Canada is concerned, we haven’t started with Canada yet. We wanted to do Mexico and see if that was possible to do. And it wasn’t — I think, it wasn’t from any standpoint something that most people thought was even doable when we started.
If you look at it, you remember, at the beginning, many people thought that this was something that just couldn’t happen because of all of the different factions, all of the different sides, and the complexity. And we made it much simpler, much better. Much better for both countries.
Canada will start negotiations shortly. I’ll be calling the Prime Minister very soon. And we’ll start negotiation, and if they’d like to negotiate fairly, we’ll do that. You know, they have tariffs of almost 300 percent on some of our dairy products, and we can’t have that. We’re not going to stand for that.
I think with Canada, frankly, the easiest thing we can do is to tariff their cars coming in. It’s a tremendous amount of money and it’s a very simple negotiation. It could end in one day and we take in a lot of money the following day.
But I think we’ll give them a chance to probably have a separate deal. We can have a separate deal or we can put it into this deal. I like to call this deal the United States-Mexico Trade Agreement. I think it’s an elegant name. I think NAFTA has a lot of bad connotations for the United States because it was a rip-off. It was a deal that was a horrible deal for our country, and I think it’s got a lot of bad connotations to a lot of people. And so we will probably — you and I will agree to the name.
We will see whether or not we decide to put up Canada or just do a separate deal with Canada, if they want to make the deal. The simplest deal is more or less already made. It would be very easy to do and execute.
But I will — I will tell you that working with you has been a pleasure. Speaking with and working President-elect López Obrador has been absolutely a very, very special time.
You both came together for your country. You worked together. I think that’s important for the media to know. We have a little — a small amount of media in our presence, like everybody. And the media should know that the President and the President-elect worked very closely together because the President felt it was important that the President-elect liked what he was seeing.
And our teams worked together. Our teams were really well unified, and your team was very well unified. I was very impressed with the fact that the two Presidents came together and worked out something mutually agreeable.
So it’s an incredible deal. It’s an incredible deal for both parties. Most importantly, it’s an incredible deal for the workers and for the citizens of both countries. Our farmers are going to be so happy. You know, my farmers — the farmers have stuck with me; I said we were going to do this. And Mexico has promised to immediately start purchasing as much farm product as they can. They’re going to work on that very hard.
And as you know, we’re working — unrelated to this, we’re working very much with other countries. China is one; they want to talk. And it’s just not right time to talk right now, to be honest, with China. It’s been — it’s too one-sided for too many years, for too many decades. And so it’s not the right time to talk. But eventually, I’m sure, that we’ll be able to work out a deal with China. In the meantime, we’re doing very well with China.
Our economy is up. It’s never been this good before, and I think it’s only going to get better.
But, Mr. President, you’ve been my friend and you have been somebody that’s been very special in a lot of ways. We talk a lot. We talked a lot about this deal. And I’d like to congratulate you and the Mexican people.
PRESIDENT PEÑA NIETO: (As interpreted.) Thank you very much, Mr. President.
I finally recognize this, especially because of the point of understanding we are now reaching on this deal. And I really hope and I desire — I wish — that the part with Canada will be materializing in a very concrete fashion; that we can have an agreement the way we proposed it from the initiation of this renegotiating process, a tripartite.
But today I celebrate the (inaudible) between the United States and Mexico because we’re reaching a final point of understanding. And I hope that in the following days we can materialize (inaudible) in the formalization of the agreement.
Something additional, Mr. President — and you have already mentioned it — it has to do with an involved and committed participation of the administration and the President-elect of Mexico. As you know, we are now going through a period of transition, and it has been possible to create a highly unified front between the negotiating team of this administration and the people appointed by the President-elect of Mexico to be observers and participate in this agreement, in this understanding, to reach the point we are now reaching.
The President-elect has been aware of everything that has been happening, and I have also had the opportunity of talking to him directly and personally on the progress being made.
You have also had direct conversations with President-elect. Things that we have to do and I hope we have the space to do it would be to find — to toast a good toast with tequila, of course — (laughter) — to celebrate this understanding.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Enrique, I think that’s exactly right. And you know the good relationship that I’ve already established with the President-elect. I was very impressed with him, I must tell you. He was terrific in every way. And he wants — you know, he loves your country like you love your country. You want to do the right thing. And we’re really doing the right thing for all of us. So I really enjoy that. Please send him my regards, and I will speak to him very shortly.
But this was great that you were able to do it together. I think doing it mutually as opposed to just you doing it — or even just him doing it — I think a mutual agreement between your two administrations was a fantastic thing. I suggested that early on, and I think it was immediately embraced and I think it was a really fantastic thing that you were able to do it — and with great spirit. I mean, it was great coordination and spirit. So I think that is really just great.
And, you know, one of the things that I’m excited about is you’re going to be helping us at the border. You’re going to be working together with us on agriculture. You’re going to be working in many different ways, and we’re going to be working with you in many different ways. This is a very comprehensive agreement.
So, Enrique, I will see you soon. I think we’re going to have a very formal ceremony. This is one of the largest trade deals ever made. Maybe the largest trade deal ever made. And it’s really something very special that two countries were able to come together and get it done.
And I just want to thank all of my people — Bob and Jared. And, gentlemen, you have been really great, the way you’ve worked so long. And I know you’ve been going up until three o’clock, four o’clock in the morning, and then getting in at eight.
So I just want to — on behalf of the United States, I want to thank you very much. And I can say that Mexico is very proud of you. They’re very proud of you. Thank you all very much.
Enrique, I’ll see you soon. I’ll talk to you soon. And congratulations, and job well done.
PRESIDENT PEÑA NIETO: (As interpreted). Thank you, Mr. President, and congratulations as well to you, to the negotiating team, to the (inaudible) of both countries. We’ll be waiting for Canada to be integrated into this process.
I send you an affectionate hug. And all my greetings to you and my regards.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: A hug from you would be very nice. (Laughter). Thank you. So long. Thanks. Goodbye, Enrique.
Okay, so we’ve made the deal with Canada. It’s a very —
Q With Canada?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: They’re starting. We made the deal with Mexico. And I think it’s a very — deal. We’re starting negotiations with Canada, pretty much immediately. I can’t tell you where those negotiations are gone. It’s going to be a — it’s a smaller segment, as you know. Mexico is a very large trading partner. But we’ve now concluded our deal and it’s being finalized.
And, Bob, when would you say it will be signed — actually, formally, signed?
AMBASSADOR LIGHTHIZER: Well, it will likely be signed at the end of November because there’s a 90-day layover period because of our statute. But we expect to submit our letter to Congress, beginning that process on Friday.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Okay, so that starts the process.
AMBASSADOR LIGHTHIZER: And then 90 days later, it will be signed.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: We have an agreement where — both with Canada and with Mexico — I will terminate the existing deal. When that happens, I can’t quite tell you; it depends on what the timetable is with Congress. But I’ll be terminating the existing deal and going into this deal. We’ll start negotiating with Canada relatively soon. They want to start — they want to negotiate very badly.
But one way or the other, we have a deal with Canada. It will either be a tariff on cars, or it will be a negotiated deal. And, frankly, a tariff on cars is a much easier way to go. But perhaps the other would be much better for Canada.
And we’re looking to help — you know, we’re looking to help our neighbors, too. If we can help our neighbors, that’s a good thing, not a bad thing. So we’re going to start that negotiation imminently. I’ll be speaking with Prime Minister Trudeau in a little while.
So I want to thank everybody. I want to thank you. What a great job you’ve all done. And it’s been — it’s been a long one, but a lot of people thought this was not a doable transaction. It’s going to be great for our people. And again, I want to thank you folks. And we’ll see you at the signing, and we’ll see you many times before that, I’m sure.
So, congratulations to the people of Mexico. Great job.
Thank you very much everybody.
11:29 A.M. EDT