In 2016, then-presidential candidate Donald Trump campaigned on a pledge to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) — and at a signing event this week, he proudly fulfilled that promise.
“Today, we are finally ending the NAFTA nightmare and signing into law the brand new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement,” Trump said, according to the Associated Press.
“Never been anything like it”
“The USMCA is the largest, fairest, most balanced and modern trade agreement ever achieved,” the president continued, adding: “There’s never been anything like it.”
A large number of Republican lawmakers were in attendance at the ceremony, causing Trump to quip that it would “take three hours” to rattle off all of the names.
“I’ve been in town long enough to know that listing members at a time like this makes more enemies than friends,” he added. The president also joked that the decision to have so many Republican senators present at the event was really part of an impeachment defense strategy.
“Maybe I’m just being nice to them ’cause I want their vote,” Trump said before suggesting that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) was in a hurry to get back to the upper chamber and begin grilling the Democrats’ impeachment managers during the impeachment question-and-answer session. “He’s got some beauties, I’ll bet.”
No Democrats were present for the signing event, which seemed to produce resentment among party members.
“Perhaps we were not invited to today’s event on the South Lawn because our presence would be a prominent reminder of our critical leadership in achieving this deal,” Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, complained, according to The Hill.
However, White House spokesman Judd Deere said such claims of exclusion were untrue, claiming that Democrats had indeed been invited, “but they chose not to attend.” Deere offered no specifics on exactly which Democrats decided to stay away.
Brighter economic future
Matthew Shay, who heads the National Retail Federation, welcomed news of the blockbuster trade agreement, calling it a good development for America’s economic future.
“We believe this agreement will bring continued decades of economic prosperity that will benefit American consumers and the millions of U.S. workers whose jobs depend on the free flow of trade with our nation’s two closest trading partners,” Shay explained in a statement.
He went on: “Goods and materials have easily crossed North American borders for more than a quarter-century, and this modernized agreement will do the same for the new digital economy and set the stage for innovations yet to be seen.”