Still, as rumors of the executive order circulated in Washington and Mexico City on Wednesday, President Enrique PeÃ±a Nieto of Mexico called Mr. Trump. And later that night, Mr. Trump issued a statement saying that he was not seeking to withdraw from Nafta, but instead âto bring Nafta up-to-date through renegotiation.â
Mr. PeÃ±a Nieto then issued a brief statement of his own, saying he, Mr. Trump and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada had a âshared objective to modernizeâ the trade agreement.
On Thursday, Mr. Trump said on Twitter that he had received phone calls from Mr. PeÃ±a Nieto and Mr. Trudeau and agreed to renegotiate the treaty instead of pulling out.
Mr. Trump had also come under pressure from congressional Republicans and business leaders alarmed by the possibility that he would move hastily toward a withdrawal.
The dayâs vicissitudes left many Mexicans with a bit of whiplash â the Mexican peso took a nose-dive â but also with a mild sense of satisfaction that they were finally learning to read the American president.
Eduardo Bravo, past chairman of the Mexican Entrepreneur Association, said he was relieved by the way the issue had been resolved on Wednesday but warned that there was still a rough road ahead, describing the White Houseâs behavior as âvery schizophrenic.â
âReally, you have to maintain hope and keep working to maintain the relationship,â he said. âThereâs a lot of work to do.â
In interviews with politicians, analysts, economists, business leaders and former diplomats, a general sentiment had emerged throughout the day on Wednesday that Mr. Trumpâs threat to withdraw from the treaty using an executive order was mostly a piece of political theater â aimed as much at his voting base as at Mexico and Canada â and not something to get terribly worked up about.
Some speculated that the news of the order was a controlled leak intended to gauge the reaction of the other Nafta parties and put them on the defensive.
âThe generous analysis would be that heâs playing brinkmanship and trying to up the ante,â said Arturo SarukhÃ¡n, a former Mexican diplomat to the United States. âThis is a way to sort of rattle the scabbard and say that heâs got a saber in it and say, âIf you donât agree to my demands, then Iâm going to end up pressing the nuclear button.ââ
Still, the news…