President Donald Trump says he plans to pull the US out of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in the near future.
Trump said Saturday that he would notify Congress of his plan, giving six months for lawmakers to approve a new trade deal signed on Friday.
“I will be formally terminating NAFTA shortly,” Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One on his way home from Argentina.
“Just so you understand, when I do that – if for any reason we’re unable to make a deal because of Congress then Congress will have a choice” between the new deal, known as the USMCA, or no continental trade deal at all,” he said.
On Friday, Trump, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto signed the new US Mexico Canada Agreement in Buenos Aires.
The United States and Canada announce a new free trade deal, along with Mexico, to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which expired late Sunday.
The agreement “will give our workers, farmers, ranchers and businesses a high-standard trade agreement that will result in freer markets, fairer trade and robust economic growth in our region,” according to a joint statement by US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland.
Now, Trump’s decision comes as Democrats are expressing skepticism about the new trade deal and this is significant in light of the fact that Democrats will take control of the House of Representatives in January after winning mid-term elections in November.
Presumptive incoming Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi called the deal a “work in progress” which lacks worker and environment protections.
“This is not something where we have a piece of paper we can say yes or no to,” she said at a news conference on Friday, noting that a law must be passed in Mexico on wages and work conditions.
Other Democrats, supported by unions that oppose the deal, have demanded better enforcement provisions for new labor and environmental standards, saying that USMCA’s state-to-state dispute settlement mechanism is feeble.