WASHINGTON (REUTERS, AFP) - US President Donald Trump on Monday (Oct 1) touted the newly reached trade deal with Canada and Mexico that will replace Nafta as a massive job engine, creating positions across the manufacturing, agriculture, technology and financial services sectors.
"These measures will support many - hundreds of thousands - American jobs," he said at a news conference at the White House. "It means far more American jobs, and these are high-quality jobs."
Trump called the deal the "most modern, up-to-date and balanced trade agreement" in US history. He plans to sign the deal by the end of November.
The deal, announced on Sunday, is a reworking of the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement, which underpins US$1.2 trillion (S$1.6 trillion) in trade between the three countries. Trump had described Nafta as a bad deal for Americans and threatened to eliminate it as part of his "America First" agenda.
Trump said the deal will give US farmers greater access to export wheat, poultry, eggs and dairy, while also turning North America into a "manufacturing powerhouse" and ensuring higher wages for auto workers.
He also said that Mexico and Canada have agreed to labour, intellectual property and environmental provisions in the new agreement.
Trump said the Nafta rewrite would not have been reached without tariffs, adding that, even though possible tariffs have given the US strong trade leverage, the country may not need to use them.
Talking up the new accord - and summing up his attitude to global trade - Trump declared it a "privilege" for foreign powers to do business with the United States.
"And I'm not talking about Mexico, Canada. I'm talking about everybody. Everybody," he said. "It's a privilege for China to do business with us. It's a privilege for the European Union, who has treated us very badly, but that's coming along."
Pointing to his combative attitude towards China - with which the United States is engaged in an escalating trade war - Trump said his strategy was bearing fruit and that "China wants to talk very badly."
Likewise, he claimed that India - which he described as the "tariff king" - wants to start trade talks with the United States "immediately."