Trump tones down rhetoric but says will 'tweak' trade ties with Canada
Trudeau, a fervent supporter of free trade, has emphasised the importance of the tripartite pact for his country's economy and warned against protectionism. Photograph: (AFP)
US President Donald Trump on Monday called for "reciprocal" trade with Canada and to build bridges of commerce across the border, but nevertheless vowed to "tweak" the bilateral relationship.
Coming into Monday's meeting with visiting Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, trade was one of the main topics on the agenda, and the new Republican leader certainly seemed to tone down his previously harsh rhetoric.
"America is deeply fortunate to have a neighbor like Canada," Trump told a joint press conference with Trudeau at his side, hailing the opportunity to "build even more bridges" of commerce.
"We understand that both of our countries are stronger when we join forces in matters of international commerce," Trump said.
But he nevertheless pledged changes were on the horizon.
"We have a very outstanding trade relationship with Canada. We will be tweaking it. We will be doing certain things that are going to benefit both of our countries."
For his part, Trudeau said the two nations -- who with Mexico make up the North American Free Trade Agreement -- "will always remain each other's most essential partner".
"Today's conversations have served to reinforce how important that is for both Canadians and Americans," he added.
Throughout his campaign and since his November election, Trump has voiced his determination to put "America first" and rip up NAFTA, which he has said is a "catastrophe" for American jobs.
Renegotiating NAFTA will not be simple and Trudeau, a fervent supporter of free trade, has emphasized the importance of the tripartite pact for his country's economy and warned against protectionism.
Trump has not been specific on how he wants the negotiations to develop.
"When we sit down as we did today and as our teams will be doing in the weeks and months to come, we will be talking about how we can continue to create good jobs for our citizens on both sides of the border," Trudeau said.
The economic ties between America and its northern neighbor, who share the world`s longest common border, run deep: three-quarters of Canada`s exports go to the US, and Canada is the top destination for exports from about 30 US states.