On Monday, President Trump called in the TV cameras to record a speakerphone call with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto on NAFTA negotiations. Specifically, Trump called to congratulate Peña Nieto and himself on replacing NAFTA with what Trump called the United States–Mexico Trade Agreement. (Peña Nieto called it NAFTA.) After a politically brutal week, Trump was claiming victory. He said he was "terminating" the $1 trillion trade deal that has reshaped North America's economies for 25 years, saying the name NAFTA "has a bad connotation" and the "incredible deal" he'd just reached with Mexico is probably open to Canada, too, if it wants to join.
"But what he went on to describe seemed like more of a rebrand than a revolution," says Krishnadev Calamur at The Atlantic, and the end result will likely be "some tweaks to the existing agreement." In fact, "it's not clear Trump can actually terminate NAFTA without congressional approval," and Congress — which has 90 days to give any deal an up-or-down vote — has only authorized trilateral negotiations including Canada, he added. Monday mostly "showcased a strategy where Trump bluffs, rebrands, and claims victory."
Monday's call wasn't about the details. It was showmanship, "a reality show playing out in real time," said David Nakamura at The Washington Post. "Parts of the conversation were so stilted that it took on the air of a hastily arranged photo op. ... Peña Nieto promised Trump, who doesn't drink, a tequila toast," and Trump concluded by saying he'd just sealed a deal with Canada. Then there's this awkward spectacle of Trump trying to patch through the call.
The text of the deal — the Trump administration calls it a "preliminary agreement in principle" — hasn't been released, but the details disclosed Monday contain some significant concessions sought by the Trump administration, notably regarding the auto industry. You can read more about the deal, and the hurdles it still has to clear, at The Washington Post. Peter Weber