President Trump moved forward with plans to submit a standalone trade agreement with Mexico to Congress on Friday after leaked comments, in which he said he would not compromise with Canada, scuttled a three-way deal.
Trump told Bloomberg News in off-the-record comments that wound up in The Toronto Star that he did not want to say publicly that he was refusing Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s offers because it would be ‘so insulting’ that a deal would be put on hold.
On Friday, the U.S. said that talks with Canada remained ‘constructive,’ even though its 90-day notice to Congress that it planned to end the North American Free Trade Agreement and go it alone with Mexico suggested otherwise.
President Trump moved forward with plans to submit a standalone trade agreement with Mexico to Congress on Friday after leaked comments, in which he said he would not compromise with Canada, scuttled a three-way deal
The president at an event lashed out at Bloomberg on Friday afternoon as ‘very dishonorable people’ for publishing his comments.
He said that off the record is not a legal term but ‘they violated it’ and did so purposefully.
Trump fumed on Twitter: ‘Wow, I made OFF THE RECORD COMMENTS to Bloomberg concerning Canada, and this powerful understanding was BLATANTLY VIOLATED. Oh well, just more dishonest reporting. I am used to it. At least Canada knows where I stand!’
The president admitted to the statements that were likely caught on tape at his afternoon event. He never claimed that he didn’t make them, only that they were not meant to be shared.
Speaking to Bloomberg of the record, he’d said a deal was possible ‘totally on our terms’ and that he’d threatened Trudeau’s government in the talks with tariffs on Canadian cars.
‘Off the record, Canada’s working their ass off. And every time we have a problem with a point, I just put up a picture of a Chevrolet Impala,’ Trump said.
According to The Toronto Star, Trump also said, ‘Here’s the problem. If I say no, the answer’s no. If I say no, then you’re going to put that, and it’s going to be so insulting they’re not going to be able to make a deal … I can’t kill these people.’
As the president was talking in North Carolina at an event, he said if a deal doesn’t come about with Canada, ‘We’ll just have to tariff those cars coming in. That’s a lot of money coming into the coffers of the United States.’
Trump said, ‘NAFTA was a disaster and we’ve changed it around.’
Just as he was wrapping, the USTR’s office released a statement that said the U.S. was submitting a formal notice to Congress, as required 90 days before a deal can be signed, that it has a deal with Mexico that Canada could later join.
‘Today the President notified the Congress of his intent to sign a trade agreement with Mexico – and Canada, if it is willing – 90 days from now. The agreement is the most advanced and high-standard trade agreement in the world. Over the next few weeks, Congress and cleared advisors from civil society and the private sector will be able to examine the agreement. They will find it has huge benefits for our workers, farmers, ranchers, and businesses,’ Ambassador Lighthizer said.
The statement declared: ‘We have also been negotiating with Canada throughout this year-long process. This week those meetings continued at all levels. The talks were constructive, and we made progress. Our officials are continuing to work toward agreement.’
Talks were to continue next week between Lighthizer and Canadian foreign minister Chrystia Freeland.
Freeland said at a news conference on Friday afternoon that she isn’t negotiating with Trump – she’s working with Lighthizer.
Lighthizer, she said, had ‘brought good faith and good will to the negotiating table’ over the past year that they’d been talking to each other.
‘It is going to take flexibility on all sides to get to a deal in the end,’ she said in a rebuttal of Trump. ‘We are confident that a win-win-win deal is possible, and we’re always going to stand up for the national interest and Canadian values.’
She later reminded, ‘Canada will only sign a deal which is a good deal for Canada.’