Trump threatens to terminate Nafta, renews calls for Mexico to pay for wall

Trump threatens to terminate Nafta, renews calls for Mexico to pay for wall

After tweeting about Hurricane Harvey on Sunday morning, Trump turned his attention to the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement

Trump threatens
Trump conducting a video teleconference on Hurricane Harvey from a conference room at Camp David. Photograph: ddp USA/REX/Shutterstock

(The Guardian) — Donald Trump on Sunday paused his monitoring of flooding and hurricane recovery in Texas to fire off tweets on familiar bugbears including Nafta and his promised border wall.

Canada and Mexico were being “very difficult” over the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, or Nafta, the president wrote, threatening to terminate the deal instead.

Trump also demanded that Mexico pay for his border wall “through reimbursement/other”, signalled a visit to Missouri designed to pressure a Democratic senator, and praised a book by a controversial law enforcement official.

Trump was at Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland. He spent most of the morning tweeting about rescue efforts in Texas as the Houston area was hit hard by flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey, which also devastated coastal communities.

“I will be going to Texas as soon as that trip can be made without causing disruption,” he wrote. “The focus must be life and safety.”

Referring to a Democratic senator up for re-election in 2018, Claire McCaskill, he added: “I will also be going to a wonderful state, Missouri, that I won by a lot in ‘16. Dem C.M. is opposed to big tax cuts. Republican will win S!”

Nafta has been a target for Trump since the presidential campaign. Shortly before writing that he was “going to a cabinet meeting (tele-conference)… on #Harvey”, he tweeted that it was the “worst trade deal ever made” and added: “May have to terminate?”

The US, Mexico and Canada have begun formal negotiations to rework the 23-year-old trade deal that Trump blames for hundreds of thousands of lost US factory jobs. The US has raised tariffs on Canadian lumber. Trump has also said: “Canada, what they’ve done to our dairy farmworkers is a disgrace.”

At a rally this week in Phoenix, Trump said he would “end up probably terminating” Nafta “at some point”.

Trump also used Twitter on Sunday to press the need for his promised wall on the US southern border.

“With Mexico being one of the highest crime nations in the world,” he wrote, “we must have THE WALL. Mexico will pay for it through reimbursement/other.”

In July, leaked transcripts of a January phone call showed that Trump told his Mexican counterpart, Enrique Peña Nieto, his promise that Mexico would pay was merely a political move.

“From an economic issue,” he said, “it is the least important thing we were talking about.” He added: “Psychologically, it means something.” Trump also said: “The fact is we are both in a little bit of a political bind, because I have to have Mexicopay for the wall – I have to.”

Trump has recently tied funding for his wall to domestic politics and an impending deadline for the funding of government.

At his Phoenix rally, he threatened to prompt a government shutdown unless Congress agreed to fund the wall. Democrats do not agree it should do so.

On Sunday, two days after issuing his pardon of former Phoenix sheriff Joe Arpaio, Trump also recommended a book by another controversial hardline sheriff, David Clarke of Milwaukee.

In June, Clarke withdrew from consideration for a post in the Department of Homeland Security, amidst criticism of his behaviour in office and reports that he allegedly plagiarised parts of an academic thesis, which he denied.

“A great book by a great guy,” the president wrote of Clarke’s tome, Cop Under Fire. “Highly recommended!”