U.S. President Donald Trump may seek separate talks with Canada and Mexico in a bid to get individual trade deals with the two countries, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on Tuesday.
"We have not reached a point where a request has been made for a bilateral agreement. and we remain strongly focused on a trilateral renegotiation of NAFTA".
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland announced the plan last week just hours after U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross confirmed the U.S. would impose tariffs of 25 per cent on imported steel and 10 per cent on imported aluminum, citing national security interests. As of May 31, they've all expired, and the USA government decided not to renew them. "For better or worse, Mexico has become as much dependent on the USA for the pork that it feeds its people as the U.S. has become dependent on Mexico", said Altin Kalo and agricultural economist with Steiner Consulting Group in Manchester, New Hampshire.
Word of the possible change in strategy comes as Washington faces unified opposition from Group of Seven economies, who have vowed to retaliate against Trump's steel and aluminum tariffs.More news: Primary polls close in key state for Dems
"NAFTA has kind of dragged on", Kudlow said of the negotiations.
The Trudeau Government is scoffing at the idea of scrapping NAFTA negotiations in favour of separate bilateral trade deals. "He hates these multilaterals. he hates large treaties".
On Friday, Trump said he might prefer to end NAFTA in favor of separate bilateral agreements with the two USA neighbors.
Trump initially threatened to pull out of the three-nation pact.More news: Kendall Jenner snapped kissing Bella and Gigi's teen brother Anwar Hadid
In Iowa, the top pork-producing state in the USA, with Mexico as its largest market, Republican Congressman Rod Blum is seen as vulnerable.
Mexico this week imposed tariffs on major USA exports such as cheese and pork, while Canada and the European Union are considering tariffs on imports of US food and farm goods from corn to orange juice to peanut butter, in response to the USA placing tariffs last week on steel and aluminum imports from those countries. Simon Lester, a trade analyst at the Cato Institute, said that on Twitter that "separating NAFTA talks into US-Canada and US-Mexico trade talks would add complexity and extra time, and reduce the economic benefits". Kudlow says Trump is "just going to try a different approach".
"He may be moving quickly towards these bilateral discussions instead of as a whole", Kudlow said.More news: Does the Law Apply to Donald Trump?