Trump Hails Canada’s Trade Decision, But Hill Fight Awaits

President to speak about agreement at 11 a.m. from the White House

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House in 2017. Canada joined a U.S.-Mexico trade pact that could replace the North American Free Trade Agreement. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images file photo)
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House in 2017. Canada joined a U.S.-Mexico trade pact that could replace the North American Free Trade Agreement. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images file photo)
Posted October 1, 2018 at 7:34am

President Donald Trump on Monday hailed Canada’s decision to join a revised version of the North American Free Trade Agreement, a pact that came about via his preferred negotiation style: Take a hard position then repeatedly double down.

Canadian officials resisted joining the new agreement for weeks after U.S. and Mexican officials announced they had agreed to terms. Trump and top aides signaled they were prepared to move ahead with a two-way pact by submitting it to Congress this week with or without Canada. But negotiators reached a deal just before a midnight Sunday deadline.

Republican lawmakers had joined Democrats in urging the president to find a way to entice Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his government to join the pact, saying a deal that excluded America’s northern neighbor would throw off U.S.-Canada trade and likely adversely affect the American economy.

In a morning tweet, a celebratory Trump hailed the pact as “a great deal for all three countries.” 

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He contends it would, if lawmakers approve remedy “deficiencies and mistakes in NAFTA, greatly opens markets to our Farmers and Manufacturers, reduces Trade Barriers to the U.S. and will bring all three Great Nations together in competition with the rest of the world.”

Calling the pact “a historic transaction,” Trump said it will be called the “United States Mexico Canada Agreement, or USMCA.”

Trump will speak about the agreement at 11 a.m. from the White House.

Candidate Trump campaigned hard on getting rid of NAFTA by either renegotiating its terms or terminating it. The president is headed to Johnson City, Tennessee, Monday evening for a campaign rally; expect a presidential victory lap when he hits the stage.

A senior administration official told Roll Call last month that securing the votes on the Hill will take some work. He did not try to chase a reporter off the notion that the matter could be close when it’s time to count votes and twist arms.

But, to be sure, White House officials saw a smoother path to approval on the Hill with Canada on board.

“There’s a lot for Congress to like,” the senior official said. “I’m not going to tell you it wouldn’t be better if we had all three.”

A major sticking point for weeks were Canadian tariffs on American dairy products, with the senior official saying last month the White House was concerned Trudeau’s government would “kill” the deal over the matter. But now White House officials are saying the terms negotiated in recent days would give U.S. dairy farmers better access to the Canadian market.

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U.S. officials also have hailed the revised pact’s automobile production provisions, saying those should return production to America — and create new jobs to an already strong economy that Trump and Co. are betting could help stave off a “blue wave” in November’s midterm elections.

Trump aides also have hailed the pact for modernizing the three-way trade agreement to reflect the digital age, with e-commerce and intellectual property protections. They also say biologic drugs sections and a mandatory six-year review progress to further modernize the pact will help U.S. businesses and consumers.

A key GOP lawmaker hailed Canada joining the pact.

“Maintaining a trilateral North American deal is an important prerequisite to preserving and extending those gains and the Trump administration has achieved that goal,” Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said in a late Sunday statement. “I look forward to reviewing this deal to confirm it meets the high standards of Trade Promotion Authority.”

Watch: McConnell, Schumer React to Trump Trade Deal

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