Trump considers terminating NAFTA, reaffirms building of southern border wall

Updated 2017-08-24 09:11:21 Xinhua
Robert Lighthizer, U.S. trade representative, attends the first round of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) renegotiations in Washington D.C., the United States, on August 16, 2017. (Xinhua/Ting Shen)

Robert Lighthizer, U.S. trade representative, attends the first round of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) renegotiations in Washington D.C., the United States, on August 16, 2017. (Xinhua/Ting Shen)

U.S. President Donald Trump said Tuesday that the United States would probably terminate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and reaffirmed the building of the southern border wall against Mexico.

"Personally, I don't think we can make a deal ... I think we'll end up probably terminating NAFTA at some point," Trump told the crowd in a prime-time address on Tuesday evening at the "Make America Great Again" rally in Phoenix, Arizona.

Trump said he doubted the United States can reach a deal with Canada and Mexico over the renegotiation of NAFTA, which came into force on Jan. 1, 1994 and has greatly benefited the three countries' economies.

On Sunday, the three parties wrapped up the first round of renegotiations on the trilateral trading bloc in Washington D.C., pledging to continue a rapid pace of talks in the coming months to update the 23-year-old trade deal.

The renegotiation comes as a pillar of Trump's "America First" agenda, which aims to reverse America's huge trade deficit and curb the outflow of America's manufacturing jobs.

"We are already in a negotiation. Mexico will remain at the table with serenity, firmness and with the national interest ahead," Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray tweeted after Trump's speech.

"Every country benefits from each other, so why change something that has been working for so many years?" Antonio Valenzuela, a resident on the U.S.-Mexico border, told Xinhua.

"There should not been any changes to it (NAFTA), because it will only affect the economies of the three partners," he added.

During the rally, Trump also threatened to shut down the U.S. federal government if Congress does not present him with a spending bill for the next fiscal year that includes funding for a wall on the southern border.

"The obstructionist Democrats would like us not to do it, but believe me, if we have to close down our government, we're building that wall," Trump said to the crowd.

He also accused Democrats of "putting all of Americans' safety at risk" for not supporting his controversial border wall proposal to stop immigrants from Mexico.

The president promised to build his signature wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, calling it "absolutely necessary."

He visited the border region on early Tuesday in Yuma, Arizona.

"Build that wall! Build that wall!" Trump supporters chanted at the Phoenix Convention Center, holding signs such as "Buy American, Hire American."

Trump promised to "crack down" on sanctuary cities. A "sanctuary" city is one where police or municipal employees are prohibited from inquiring about one's immigration status, and often do not use municipal funds to enforce federal immigration laws.

Regarding the wall, Valenzuela said, "There is already a wall on the border, so why build a new one? A new administration and a new president do not mean you have to change everything."

Moreover, Trump spent the first half of the rally defending his response to the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, saying the "dishonest" media reports did not cover his comments fairly.

"Did they report that I said racism is evil?" Trump asked.

Trump came under attacks after stating that "many sides" displayed violence in the town which claimed three lives. He clarified later that white supremacists, neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan were among the groups that instigated the violence.

"I strongly condemn neo-Nazis, white Supremacists and the KKK," Trump said. "I hit them with neo-Nazi. I hit them with everything. KKK? We have KKK. I got them all," he added.

Trump called out the "failing New York Times" and labeled The Washington Post as a "lobbying tool" for Amazon. Upon the mention of CNN, the crowd responded with chants of "CNN sucks!"

"Trump claims media are fake news. It's ridiculous. Fake news is fake news. Fake news is news coming from Trump tower," Robin Kent, a 64-year-old retired resident told Xinhua.

Trump's speech lasted more than an hour and drew about twenty thousand supporters as well as thousands of protesters outside the convention center.

After his speech, police tried to disperse the protesters with tear gas. At least three were arrested in connection with the Phoenix rally, according to local media reports.

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