President Donald Trump’s mastery of the art of the deal was on full display this week after he threatened to pull the United States out of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a move that sent the leaders of Canada and Mexico scrambling to renegotiate the deal and gave the U.S. all the bargaining power it could have hoped for.
“I received calls from the President of Mexico and the Prime Minister of Canada asking to renegotiate NAFTA rather than terminate,” Trump tweeted on Thursday morning. “I agreed subject to the fact that if we do not reach a fair deal for all, we will then terminate NAFTA. Relationships are good – deal very possible!”
On Wednesday, the Trump administration made headlines with a draft executive order that would have withdrawn the U.S. from NAFTA effective immediately. The reaction across North America was immediate, with members of congress airing their grievances about the proposition and the Mexican peso tumbling precipitously.
By Wednesday evening, though, Trump had fielded phone calls from both Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who both “agreed to proceed swiftly” on coming up with a new version of NAFTA that better serves U.S. interests.
His rapid about-face brought about jeers from leftist critics who were quick to smear the change of heart as a failure, but as senior White House officials have astutely observed, “this expedites renegotiations.”
“It is my privilege to bring NAFTA up to date through renegotiation. It is an honor to deal with both President Peña Nieto and Prime Minister Trudeau, and I believe that the end result will make all three countries stronger and better,” Trump said in a White House statement released Wednesday.
Now, the Trump administration has free range to forge a trade agreement that is in the best interests of the U.S., because if either Canada or Mexico decides to play hardball, the president can simply axe the entire thing with an executive order.