The Washington Post explains that Trump’s recent announcement of a new deal with Mexico turns out to be just another of his “diplomatic exaggerations and falsehoods.”
Trump announced on Monday that he had struck a deal with Mexico to replace NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement).
Hello everybody. It’s a big day for trade, a big day for our country. A lot of people thought we’d never get here because we all negotiate tough. We do, and so does Mexico. And this is a tremendous thing.
This has to do — they used to call it NAFTA. We’re going to call it the United States-Mexico Trade Agreement, and we’ll get rid of the name NAFTA. It has a bad connotation because the United States was hurt very badly by NAFTA for many years. And now it’s a really good deal for both countries, and we look very much forward to it.
Later turning his attention to Canada, the other signatory country to NAFTA, Trump added:
We’ll start negotiating with Canada relatively soon. They want to start — they want to negotiate very badly. But one way or the other, we have a deal with Canada. It will either be a tariff on cars, or it will be a negotiated deal.
The Washington Post published a lengthy analysis of his announcement, beginning with a list of his “diplomatic exaggerations and falsehoods,” to include his alleged deal with Mexico. (For clarity, we have formatted their list as bullet points.)
- Trump ended the nuclear threat from North Korea. Except he didn’t.
- President Trump went to Brussels and extracted big concessions from NATO allies. Except there’s no actual evidence of that.
- President Trump hailed a “breakthrough agreement” with the European Commission to avert a trade war. Except it was basically just an agreement to talk, with no concrete policy shifts.
- And now we can add one more to the list. Trump took to the Oval Office on Monday morning to hail “maybe the largest trade deal ever made,” with Mexico — a deal that allowed him to “terminate” the North American Free Trade Agreement, as he’s longed to do. Except neither of these things are even close to being substantiated. And it’s patently obvious that Trump has yet again claimed a major diplomatic victory that is completely premature at best and completely fictional and fanciful at worst.
After a detailed analysis, explaining the falsehood of Trump’s claim to a new deal, The Washington Post concluded their article reporting:
Were Canada to decline to join a new trade deal to replace NAFTA, Trump would almost definitely need to receive congressional authorization for a new, bilateral trade deal — which would be a hard sell given that even Republican lawmakers are wary of Trump’s protectionist approach to trade.
But that’s not the path laid out Tuesday by Trump and the White House. They suggested this can be done via presidential authority even without Canada. Trump appears to be bluffing in hopes of getting Canada on board rather quickly, but it’s also abundantly clear that he’s bluffing.
Canada must know that, and if it understands its choice as being between joining the deal and keeping NAFTA — given that Trump probably can’t replace it with a bilateral deal — it may just decide it’s best to call Trump’s bluff and let him try that. At the very least, it would seem better to wait a little while and not negotiate with a knife at your throat.
All of it might shake out in the end. Canada could indeed join at some point, Trump’s antics notwithstanding. But the path laid out by Trump doesn’t appear to be a viable one, and like his previous, self-proclaimed diplomatic coups, it falls apart almost instantly upon further inspection.
In a related story, Politico reported that Trump renewed his claims that he would build a border wall and that Mexico would pay for it.
Speaking to reporters after a meeting with the president of FIFA, the international soccer governing body, Trump said the wall “will be paid for, very easily, by Mexico. It will ultimately be paid for by Mexico.”
Mexico’s Foreign Minister, Luis Videgaray Caso, again insisted his country was not paying for the wall, tweeting: “We just reached a trade understanding with the US, and the outlook for the relationship between our two countries is very positive. We will NEVER pay for a wall, however. That has been absolutely clear from the very beginning.”
We just reached a trade understanding with the US, and the outlook for the relationship between our two countries is very positive. We will NEVER pay for a wall, however. That has been absolutely clear from the very beginning.
— Luis Videgaray Caso (@LVidegaray) August 28, 2018
Mexico’s president elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has yet to weigh in on Trump’s Tuesday claim, but earlier this month Newsweek reported that he has rejected any plan to build a border wall, “declaring Monday [August 6] the Mexican government will not allow its northern neighbor to build its proposed border wall.”
Speaking at a security meeting involving Mexican engineers, Obrador, also known as AMLO, took a tough stance against the Trump administration’s multibillion-dollar border wall construction and “zero tolerance” immigration directive, Telesur reported…
“Our goal is to make Mexico a powerful country, nobody will threaten us that they will close or militarize the border or build a wall,” Obrador told attendees at the Peace and Security forum in Ciudad Juárez on Monday.