Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on Tuesday June 28 vowed to force Canada and Mexico to renegotiate the NAFTA trade agreement with the United States if elected, as part of an effort to protect and restore American jobs.
Trump criticized the North American Free Trade Agreement as a U.S. job killer, saying he would be willing to scrap the pact if Canada and Mexico were unwilling to budge. He also tried to link Democratic rival Hillary Clinton to the deal on the eve of a meeting in Ottawa of the “three amigos,” the leaders of the three NAFTA signatories: the United States, Mexico and Canada.
In his most detailed speech on trade, the presumptive Republican nominee said he would pull the United States out of negotiations for a deal among 12 Pacific Rim nations and promised to use executive power to resolve trade disputes with China.
Trump also pledged to revive the U.S. steel and aluminum industry, speaking at an aluminum scrap company in Monessen, Pennsylvania, nearly 30 miles (50 km) south of Pittsburgh, the one-time American steelmaking capital.
Trump has identified Pennsylvania as a state he believes he can wrest from the Democrats in the Nov. 8 election. He also campaigned on Tuesday in Ohio, which like Pennsylvania is a Rust Belt state.
Democratic President Barack Obama won both states in 2008 and 2012, but manufacturing job losses have led to voter anxiety in the region.
“I’m going to tell our NAFTA partners that I intend to immediately renegotiate the terms of that agreement to get a better deal for our workers. And I don’t mean just a little bit better, I mean a lot better,” Trump said in Pennsylvania.
If Canada and Mexico do not agree to renegotiate the pact, Trump said he would notify them under the agreement’s terms “that America intends to withdraw from the deal.”
He tried to tie his Democratic rival to the pact, approved in 1993 during the administration of her husband, President Bill Clinton, as he called NAFTA one of the “worst legacies” of the Clinton years.
On MSNBC after Trump’s speech, Clinton spokeswoman Kristina Schake called the wealthy New York businessman the “king of outsourcing,” in an apparent reference to Trump-branded products such as suits and ties made overseas.
“It was full of hypocrisy and misstatements and outright lies,” Schake said.
Trade has been a vulnerability for Clinton, who struggled for white, blue-collar votes in her Democratic primary race against U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, who criticized her for supporting trade deals and said she was too close to Wall Street.
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