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Trump says he won’t sign any NAFTA deal until after midterms

President Trump said in a Fox News interview July 1 that he won't sign a NAFTA deal until after the midterm elections. (Video: Elyse Samuels/The Washington Post)

President Trump said Sunday he is “not happy” with the revised NAFTA deal that his administration has been hammering out with Canada and Mexico and he doesn't want to sign any new agreement until after the midterm elections in November.

The remarks aired on Fox News's “Sunday Morning Futures” on a critical day for the U.S. relationship with its neighbors. Canada started collecting tariffs on $12.6 billion worth of U.S. products to hit back at Trump, and Mexican voters went to the polls to pick a new president, who will play a key role in shaping any final NAFTA deal. The winner, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, is known for his populist policies.

“NAFTA, I could sign it tomorrow, but I’m not happy with it. I want to make it more fair, okay?” Trump told Maria Bartiromo of Fox News, adding that “I want to wait until after the election” to sign it.

Trump says he ‘wouldn’t mind’ scrapping NAFTA

Trump angered Canada and Mexico by imposing hefty tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from the two countries, citing national security concerns. Those tariffs went into effect on June 1.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has called the tariffs “insulting and unacceptable,” and he retaliated by putting tariffs on U.S. steel and aluminum as well as products such as ketchup and beef on July 1.

Many business and world leaders are hoping for a swift end to Trump's tariffs, which they argue hurt economic growth and U.S. relationships around the world. Trump is now waging trade battles with Canada, Mexico, Europe, Japan and China.

“I am worried about the trade rhetoric going too far,” Anthony Scaramucci, who served in the White House last year and has typically defended the president, tweeted Saturday. “Signs are there: capital is starting to wdraw from stocks. The mkts are signaling a lot more risk ... Change tactics now.”

But Trump has shown few signs of pulling back. Instead, he is calling for additional tariffs on China and on imported cars, a move that would hurt Europe, Japan and South Korea.

“The European Union is possibly as bad as China, just smaller,” he said Sunday. When he was asked about whether he would back down on tariffs on China, he replied, “No, no, no, no.”

The next steps in the escalating trade war are fast approaching. China plans to hit the United States with tariffs on more than 500 goods on Friday, the same day that Trump will start collecting tariffs on $34 billion in Chinese imports.

General Motors warned Friday that Trump's tariffs and the retaliation from other nations will hurt the company, forcing GM to cut jobs and putting it at a disadvantage against foreign competitors.

But Trump fired back at GM on Sunday, saying that the only consequence would be that more cars will be built in the United States.

“What’s going to really happen is there’s going to be no tax. You know why? They’re going to build their cars in America. They’re going to make them here,” he said.

The president said last week that the tariffs have been “incredible,” even though America's largest nail factory in Missouri has begun laying off workers because of the import duties and the American motorcycle company Harley-Davidson said it is shifting some production overseas because of the fallout from Trump's trade dispute with the European Union.

Trump predicted that his supporters, many of whom are fans of Harley-Davidson, would shun the brand if the company goes forward with moving more production overseas.

“I think they are going to take a big hit,” he said. “The people that are buying Harley-Davidson, they don’t want it built in another country.”