- Thomson Reuters
- President Donald Trump on Thursday bashed NAFTA and again promised that Mexico would pay for his proposed border wall “directly or indirectly.”
- Trump said his idea of the wall had “never changed.”
- His remarks followed articles by The New York Times and The Washington Post saying Trump’s chief of staff, John Kelly, had told Democratic lawmakers that Trump had previously been uninformed on the issue and was no longer considering building a wall along the US’s entire southern border.
- The US, Mexico, and Canada will meet to discuss NAFTA next week in Montreal. Some expect Trump to withdraw from the deal entirely.
President Donald Trump on Thursday morning bashed the North American Free Trade Agreement and again promised that Mexico would pay for his proposed border wall.
“The Wall is the Wall, it has never changed or evolved from the first day I conceived of it,” Trump said on Twitter. “Parts will be, of necessity, see through and it was never intended to be built in areas where there is natural protection such as mountains, wastelands or tough rivers or water.”
Trump’s tweet followed articles in The New York Times and The Washington Post on Wednesday that said Trump’s chief of staff, John Kelly, had told Democratic lawmakers that Trump had been uninformed when campaigning on the platform of building a wall along the entire US-Mexico border.
The Times quoted Kelly as telling the Congressional Hispanic Caucus that Trump’s views on the wall had “evolved” and that he had convinced Trump the wall wasn’t necessary.
Trump goes back to basics, again saying Mexico will pay for the wall
- Reuters/Rick Wilking
In a follow-up tweet Thursday morning, Trump said: “The Wall will be paid for, directly or indirectly, or through longer term reimbursement, by Mexico, which has a ridiculous $71 billion dollar trade surplus with the U.S. The $20 billion dollar Wall is ‘peanuts’ compared to what Mexico makes from the U.S. NAFTA is a bad joke!”
NAFTA, a 24-year-old pact among the US, Canada, and Mexico that lowers tariffs and makes it easier for goods and services to flow across the three countries’ borders, has been a frequent target of Trump’s criticism, with the president sometimes calling it “the worst trade deal in history.”
On January 11, a report that Canadian officials had become convinced Trump would exit the deal sent the Canadian dollar and the Mexican peso plummeting.
The US is due to meet with Mexican and Canadian officials next week in Montreal to discuss the agreement. Though Trump attacks the deal as being bad for workers in the US, citing trade imbalances as evidence, a majority of US states export billions of dollars’ worth of goods to Mexico and Canada every year.
Trump’s border-wall funding under fire
- Reuters/Mike Blake
Besides a renegotiation of NAFTA, Trump has also been looking to secure funding for his promised border wall amid bipartisan immigration talks in Congress that have stalled following a meeting in which Trump was widely reported to profanely condemned immigration from Haiti and African countries.
When lawmakers presented Trump with their immigration plan last week, he and other Republican hardliners on immigration reportedly rejected the deal as it didn’t include funding for the wall and the elimination of the diversity visa lottery program, another form of immigration Trump has taken aim at.