US President Donald Trump has said that he will soon begin “renegotiating” the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) with his Canadian and Mexican counterparts.
Meetings have been scheduled with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, he said.
The Nafta agreement came into effect between the three countries in 1994.
Mr Trump has called it the worst trade deal the US has ever signed.
The White House website says that if Canada and Mexico refuse to accept a renegotiation of Nafta that provides a “fair deal” for American workers, then the US will move to withdraw from it.
Speaking at a ceremony to swear in senior White House staff, Mr Trump said he would also talk with Mr Pena Nieto about immigration and border security in a meeting that the White House says will take place on 31 January.
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“Mexico has been terrific. The president has been really very amazing,” he said.
“I think we are going to have a very good result for Mexico, for the United States, for everybody involved.”
No date has been given for a meeting between Mr Trump and Mr Trudeau.
What is Nafta?
- The North American Free Trade Agreement came into effect between the US, Canada and Mexico in 1994 when Bill Clinton was US president
- It created one of the world’s largest free trade zones by reducing or eliminating tariffs on most products
- The pact was meant to benefit small businesses by lowering costs and reducing bureaucracy to facilitate buying and selling abroad
- Whether it has ultimately helped or harmed Americans is hotly debated
- The Congressional Research Service, which provides independent analysis, said in 2015: “In reality, Nafta did not cause the huge job losses feared by the critics or the large economic gains predicted by supporters.” It also said: “The net overall effect of Nafta on the US economy appears to have been relatively modest, primarily because trade with Canada and Mexico accounts for a small percentage of US GDP.”
Mr Pena Nieto’s office said on Saturday that the Mexican leader had called Mr Trump to congratulate him.
The Mexican president “reiterated the strategic priority of bilateral ties… and expressed his interest in maintaining an open dialogue,” a statement said.
Mr Pena Nieto has faced criticism in Mexico for lacking a clear plan of action to deal with President Trump’s threats, which include building a massive border wall at Mexico’s expense and slapping a tax on Mexican imports.
Protests were held on Friday outside a Ford showroom in Mexico City after the car company cancelled an $1.6bn (£1.3bn) plant it planned to build in Mexico.