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Top Mexican Official Says Trump ‘Proved’ Naysayers ‘Wrong’ on NAFTA

Luis Videgaray Caso said the 'brilliant' new trade deal is a 'breakthrough,' hopes Canada will sign on, too

U.S. and Mexican trade negotiators proved the naysayers wrong by striking a new deal replacing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs Luis Videgaray Caso said Monday night on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle.”

“A lot of people thought that NAFTA would be over last year — early last year — and that there was no way to fix this relationship in a way that would be constructive to both sides,” Videgaray Caso said. “We proved them wrong through very disciplined, tenacious work and with a vision.”

President Donald Trump unveiled the U.S.-Mexico Trade Agreement (USMTA) Monday and touted it during a phone call with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, saying, “We’ll get rid of the name NAFTA … It has a bad connotation because the United States was hurt very badly by NAFTA for many years.”

Canada, NAFTA’s other member, has not yet entered into USMTA. But Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke by phone Monday, and the president plans to give Canada until Friday to decide if it’s in or out.

Trump intends to submit his formal notification to withdraw from NAFTA to Congress Friday, thus triggering a 90-day waiting period.

“It’s really significant. I think it’s a breakthrough, and it shows that two countries can actually get together and do a good deal — a good deal for both of them that is reciprocal, that is fair and will allow growth on both sides,” Videgaray Caso said. “It’s good for Mexican workers. It’s good for the American worker. I think this is a brilliant deal.”

The two nations struck the deal after “almost two” turbulent years filled with “great uncertainty” and tension, Videgaray Caso admitted, saying Mexicans wondered “whether we would still have access to the U.S. market through a trade agreement.”

Videgaray Caso said “what happened today is significant because we are guaranteeing that we’ll have a trade agreement with the U.S. We love Canada, and we want to have Canada as part of the deal. But in case — for whatever reason Canada is not able to join, we’ll still have a deal with the U.S. and we’ll move on.”

But Videgaray Caso emphasized that U.S. and Mexican officials “are going to work 24/7 to enable the possibility of Canada being part of the deal.”

National Economic Council (NEC) Director Larry Kudlow also told Fox News host Laura Ingraham that all the “screaming at President Trump” and complaints about “his tactics and his aggressiveness and his plain-speaking” from Democrats, Establishment Republicans, and mainstream media members alike came up empty.

“It looks like it’s paying off to me,” Kudlow said of Trump’s negotiating tactics. “He wants to get to the free trade, no tariffs, no nontariff barriers, no subsidies — that’s his goal. But you have to be tough to get to that goal.”

Related: Trump Unveils New Deal with Mexico to Replace NAFTA

As for Canada, Kudlow warned, “If we can’t get a good deal, then [Trump] may well resort to automobile taxes or tariffs, foreign import taxes. The Canadians do not want that.”

The White House economic adviser added that “as the president has said, he’d like to have a good deal. But if not, he’s willing to go on the car taxes if he has to do it, OK? That’s his negotiating form. And look — you have to be tough, you have to be strong.”

Both Kudlow and Videgaray Caso credited U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and senior adviser to the president Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, for an instrumental role in striking the USMTA deal.

“Jared has been absolutely instrumental. I would say that we would never have arrived at this day without Jared’s hard work, his vision and just his courage,” Videgaray Caso said.

Kudlow added, “Huge, huge credit to Jared Kushner and Bob Lighthizer.”

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PoliZette writer Kathryn Blackhurst can be reached at [email protected].