President Donald Trump announced on Sunday (22 January) that he will begin renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) when he meets with the leaders of Mexico and Canada. The president added that he has scheduled meetings with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
"We're going to start some negotiations having to do with Nafta," Trump said during a White House event. He continued: "Anybody ever hear of Nafta? I ran a campaign somewhat based on Nafta. But we're going to start renegotiating on Nafta, on immigration, on security at the border."
According to CNN, Trump's goal to renegotiate or withdraw from the deal may be hampered both by its partner countries and by Congress. The trade pact was enacted 23 years ago and is supported by a majority of Republicans.
Trump vowed to renegotiate the deal during his 2016 presidential campaign, Reuters noted. His predecessor, former president Barack Obama, was also critical of Nafta when he was a presidential candidate. Obama attempted to renegotiate the deal by forming the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
The TPP, which has not yet been enacted, would enforce Democratic-favoured labour and environmental rules on participating countries, including the US' neighbours to the north and south. However, unlike many in his party, Trump has been extremely vocal in his criticism of the deal, and has promised to kill the TPP within the first 100 days of his administration.
The White House's revamped website states Trump's plans to withdraw from the TPP and renegotiate Nafta. "If our partners refuse a renegotiation that gives American workers a fair deal, then the President will give notice of the United States' intent to withdraw from Nafta," the website claims.
Changes to Nafta, or a withdrawal from the trade pact, could be met with retaliatory tariff hikes in other nations. This would mean the cost of goods imported to the US could rise for American consumers, while US companies could lose access to important foreign markets.