Favoring Canada over Mexico in trade renegotiations will be 'complicated,' expert says

Trump & Trudeau talk trade
Trump & Trudeau talk trade

President Donald Trump may want more drastic trade changes with Mexico than with Canada, but making that happen will complicated, expert Thomas Bollyky told CNBC on Monday.

The three countries' trade deals are tied together in the North American Free Trade Agreement, which Trump has repeatedly slammed.

"It's not clear that you can have the differential treatment that the president is suggesting with the two countries without Congress being heavily involved. And once Congress becomes involved, there are a lot of statutory timelines for negotiation of that agreement. It gets a lot more complicated," the senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations said in an interview with "Closing Bell."

Trump met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the White House on Monday and afterward touted the trade relationship between the two countries. He also said he thought the U.S. gets a worse deal from Mexico.

"We have a very outstanding trade relationship with Canada. We'll be tweaking it. We'll be doing certain things that are going to benefit both of our countries. It's a much less severe situation than what's taken place on the southern border," Trump said at a joint White House press conference with Trudeau.

Alan Tonelson, a former research fellow with the U.S. Business and Industry Council, believes revamping NAFTA will improve all of North America's manufacturing competitiveness.

"That could be a win, win, win for all three countries," said Tonelson, founder of the economics and policy blog RealityChek.

While the backers of NAFTA promised the deal would greatly improve North American competitiveness, the exact opposite has occurred, he told "Closing Bell."

"Industry after industry in North American manufacturers, whether you're talking about Mexican, Canadian or U.S., have lost global market share," Tonelson argued.

Trump has called for a renegotiation of the 1994 deal, which he says has harmed American workers.

— CNBC's Jacob Pramuk contributed to this report.