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Trump says 'wouldn't mind' scrapping Nafta for bilateral deals
[WASHINGTON] President Donald Trump said Friday he "wouldn't mind" pursuing separate trade deals with Canada and Mexico in lieu of the North America Free Trade Agreement (Nafta).
"These are two very different countries," Mr Trump told reporters at the White House. "But I wouldn't mind seeing a separate deal with Canada, where you have one type of product, so to speak, and a separate deal with Mexico."
Mr Trump went on to say the US loses "a lot of money with Canada" and "a fortune with Mexico" and that while he loved both countries, they took "advantage of us economically". He singled out Mexico for attracting US auto manufacturers and Canada for restrictions on American agriculture imports.
The president's remarks came less than a day after he warned Canada in a statement issued by the White House that a renegotiated Nafta accord must be "a fair deal, or there will be no deal at all".
Earlier Friday, Mr Trump said Canada had treated American farmers poorly and called for a reduction in trade barriers.
The US president's escalated rhetoric came after Mr Trudeau expressed frustration over Mr Trump's decision to end an exemption for Canada and other allies from steel and aluminum tariffs. Mr Trudeau said Canada would respond with dollar-for-dollar retaliatory tariffs, and said a proposed meeting with Mr Trump to potentially secure a Nafta deal collapsed after Vice-President Mike Pence called and insisted the meeting was conditional on adding a sunset clause.
Quitting Nafta would be yet another explosive and controversial trade move by the Trump administration. The US, Canada and Mexico trade more than a trillion dollars in goods annually. It would also signal no one is safe: Mexico and Canada are the top two buyers of US exports.
Earlier this week, Mr Trudeau said that killing the deal could be better than swallowing unfavourable revisions to the 1994 trade pact.
"No Nafta is better than a bad deal, and we've made that very clear to the president," Mr Trudeau said during a Bloomberg interview in Toronto.