President Donald Trump credited recent tariffs as the key for getting through the US-Canada-Mexico Agreement (USMCA).
Trump also said people should stop whining about the tariffs.
"By the way, without tariffs, we wouldn't be talking about a deal," Trump said. "Just for those babies out there that talk about tariffs."
President Donald Trump on Monday slammed critics of his restrictive trade policy during a press conference announcing the new US-Mexico-Canada trade agreement (USMCA).
According to Trump, his recent steel and aluminum tariffs as well as threats of tariffs on imported cars were a key reason that the US, Canada, and Mexico were able to come to an agreement on a North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) update.
"By the way, without tariffs, we wouldn't be talking about a deal," Trump said. "Just for those babies out there that talk about tariffs. That includes Congress. 'Oh please don't charge tariffs.' Without tariffs, we wouldn't be standing here."
Trump launched the renegotiation of NAFTA just days after taking office in 2017 and official talks kicked off in August 2017. Little progress was made during the first year of talks, but a furious push to wrap up the deal before current Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto left office at the end of November helped to break the impasse.
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The steel and aluminum tariffs will remain in place, Trump said, to bolster the American industries. US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer did clarify that talks on the tariffs were ongoing.
According to many economists, Trump's tariffs will push up costs for American consumers and business, which will ultimately produce a drag on the US economy.
In addition to the USMCA, Trump also credited the threat of auto tariffs for the European Union's willingness to negotiate a new trade agreement.
"I announced we're going to put a 20% tariff, could be 25% on their cars coming in and they immediately called and said we would like to start negotiations," Trump said. "We're having a successful negotiation. We'll see what happens. Who knows."
Trump also took aim at China, the president's main adversary on trade. The Trump administration recently escalated the trade war with China, imposing tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods.
"And China wants to talk very badly. And I said, frankly, it's too early to talk," Trump said. "Can't talk now because they're not ready. Because they have been ripping us for so many years, it doesn't happen that quickly. If politically people force it too quickly, you're not going to make the right deal for our workers and for our country."