Canadian PM Justin Trudeau optimistic on NAFTA, but "ready for anything"

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was optimistic Wednesday that Canada and the U.S. would reach an agreement on renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), but said Canadians are "braced for" a surprise.

"I think Canadians are aware that the American administration and the president makes decisions that surprise people form time to time," Trudeau told reporters during a press conference in Washington, D.C., adding that Canadians are ready for "unpredictability." 

Trudeau's comments come as President Trump has threatened to withdraw from NAFTA — an agreement with the U.S., Canada and Mexico — entirely. Mr. Trump has blamed NAFTA for taking factory jobs from U.S. workers, calling the deal unfair. 

Trudeau said he told Mr. Trump he will put a block on buying Boeing military equipment if the Trump administration sticks with 220 percent duties on Bombardier jets. After their meeting, Mr. Trump still offered doubts about his administration's ability to reach a deal with Canada. 

"We'll see what happens with NAFTA, but I've been opposed to NAFTA for a long time," Mr. Trump told reporters during a photo op with Trudeau at the White House earlier in the day. "... It's possible we won't be able to make a deal and it's possible that we will," he said. "If we can't make a deal, we can't make a deal."

But Trudeau, despite Mr. Trump's uncertainty, said he believes the two nations can reach a deal that is mutually beneficial to the U.S. and Canada. 

"My optimism towards NAFTA, towards renegotiation, isn't based on personality or reading political tea leaves," Trudeau said on Wednesday. "My optimism is based on, I know how good NAFTA has been for citizens of the United States, for Canada and for Mexico." 

"And I truly believe we can work together in a meaningful way to bring those benefits to our citizens," Trudeau added.

The Canadian prime minister said he still believes it's possible to get a "win-win-win" scenario for Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, something Vice President Mike Pence has expressed he hopes to see. 

Trudeau said Canada is willing to be, "ready for anything."

"I think it's been clear that circumstances are often challenging, and we have to be ready for anything, and we are."

CBS News' Blair Guild contributed to this report. 

  • Kathryn Watson

    Kathryn Watson is a politics reporter for CBS News Digital.