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Donald Trump: 'I never had a beer in my life... can you imagine if I had? What a mess I would be'

In a long press conference, Trump touched on the Brett Kavanaugh scandal and the new trade deal with Mexico and Canada.

Image: Mike Theiler UPI/PA Images

LIFELONG TEETOTALER DONALD Trump is already loud, brash and provocative, so just imagine him after a few drinks, the US president quipped today.

“I’m not a drinker and I can honestly say I never had a beer in my life — it’s one of my only good traits,” Trump joked at a long, rambling press conference where hailed the “most important ever” trade deal between the US, Canada and Mexico and said tensions between himself and Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau were “all worked out”. 

“Can you imagine if I had [drank beer]?” he said to laughs. “What a mess I would be. I would be the world’s worst.”

Trump poked fun at himself while responding to questions about his Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, who faces potentially career-destroying allegations that he abused women during heavy drinking sessions at school and university.

Trump again defended the conservative judge, who would help tilt the highest court to the right for years to come, saying that Kavanaugh had been open during Senate testimony about his liking for beer as a young man.

While Kavanaugh was not “perfect with respect to alcohol,” Trump said he knew opposition Democrat senators who are not “angels.”

Asked who they were, he refused to elaborate: “I will save it for a book, like everybody else. I’m not giving it to you.”

‘Manufacturing powerhouse’

At the same press conference, the US President hailed a US trade pact with Canada and Mexico, which replaces the old NAFTA deal, as a historic agreement set to turn North America back into a “manufacturing powerhouse” and fuel US economic expansion.

Governing almost $1.2 trillion in trade, the pact known as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA, is “the most important trade deal we’ve ever made by far,” Trump said.

The agreement first announced late last night, just before a midnight deadline, ended more than a year of tense negotiations sparked by Trump’s decision to scrap the quarter-century old North American Free Trade Agreement.

Trump’s aggressive tearing up of long-standing US trade deals – with everyone from its two huge neighbours to China and the European Union – has rattled world leaders and sparked fears of economic turmoil.

But in a buoyant performance at his Rose Garden news conference, Trump said the approach of using harsh tariffs to force countries into renegotiating unfair deals had been vindicated.

“The United States in its trade deals has lost on average almost $800 billion a year. That’s dealing with China, dealing with European Union, with everybody, Japan, Mexico, Canada, everybody,” he said.

“We’re not going to allow that to happen.”

Protect jobs

USMCA is said by analysts to be similar to NAFTA in many respects but there is improved access for US agricultural goods, including the dairy products which Canada in particular had tried to limit.

New rules are designed to improve US auto workers’ competitiveness, with 40% of each car required to have been made by people earning at least $16 an hour. The US had also sought increased American content for duty-free autos.

Trump said the new framework will encourage US companies to hire at home, rather than look abroad.

“It will transform North America back into a manufacturing powerhouse,” he said. USMCA will “allow us to reclaim a supply chain that has been off-shored to the world because of unfair trade issues”.

Mexican President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has embraced the new deal, his incoming foreign minister said.

“The deal creates an opportunity for modernization and diversification of our productive sector. It will allow us to maintain the competitiveness of the Mexican manufacturing industry, which will keep its access to the world’s largest market,” Marcelo Ebrard told a press conference.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau faces anger from dairy farmers but called the deal “a good day for Canada.”

Stock markets rose on news of the agreement, with the Dow Jones in New York up 1.0 percent in late morning, just shy of a record high.

‘Privilege’

For Trump, the USMCA is only the start of what he says is a global pushback against countries taking advantage of the US economy.

Talking up the new accord — and encapsulating his take-no-prisoners 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 — which is now locked in an escalating trade war with the United States – Trump said his strategy was bearing fruit. “China wants to talk very badly,” he said.

Likewise, he claimed that India – which he described as the “tariff king” – wants to start trade talks with the United States “immediately”.

He also called out Brazil, Latin America’s biggest country, as a chief offender, “a beauty”.

© – AFP 2018

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