NAFTA is being renegotiated by the three countries, but the pact looks set to go the way of the Paris climate accord, the Iran deal, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The advisers who advocated for Trump to remain in those multilateral pacts have long left the administration and those who remain say they support Trump’s worldview. Indeed, Ross, the treasury secretary, said Thursday the tariffs on Canada were being imposed because of insufficient progress on talks to renegotiate NAFTA. Just days earlier, investors were optimistic that the three countries were close to an agreement. No longer.
Trudeau suggested as much when he said Thursday that he canceled a trip to Washington to meet with Trump about an agreement on NAFTA because Vice President Mike Pence told him that a meeting could only go ahead if a sunset clause were added to the pact. Canada views such a clause—one in which NAFTA would be renegotiated every five years—as a red line because it creates exactly the kind of economic uncertainty that deals like NAFTA are meant to eliminate. “I had to highlight that there was no possibility of any Canadian prime minister signing a NAFTA deal that included a five-year sunset clause, and obviously the visit didn’t happen,” Trudeau said.