April 27 (UPI) — President Donald Trump agreed Wednesday not to terminate the North American Free Trade Agreement, which he repeatedly called “the worst trade deal in history” during his presidential campaign.
Trump told Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in late afternoon phone calls that the U.S. would not pull out of NAFTA “at this time,” the White House said.
The three leaders agreed to “proceed swiftly” in renegotiating NAFTA, one of Trump’s central campaign promises, the White House said.
“It is my privilege to bring NAFTA up to date through renegotiation,” Trump said in a written statement that accompanied the White House readout of the phone calls. “It is an honor to deal with both President Peña Nieto and Prime Minister Trudeau, and I believe that the end result will make all three countries stronger and better.”
Trump’s decision came just hours after he reportedly considered an executive order to withdraw from the three-nation pact he has repeatedly criticized as a “disaster for our country.”
Some Republican lawmakers warned the administration that scrapping the 1994 agreement would be a “disaster,” triggering backlash from the U.S. business community and recriminations from Ottawa and Mexico City.
Trump’s decision also followed two developments this week on the North American trade front.
On Monday, Trump announced tariffs on Canadian softwood — up to 24.1 percent aimed at Canada’s lumber industry.
On Tuesday, Mexico scored a trade victory over the U.S. when the World Trade Organization ruled in its favor in a tuna dispute.