US, Canada, Mexico Sign New Trade Deal
- Celia Watts
President Donald Trump joined the leaders of Canada and Mexico at a global meeting in Argentina on Friday to sign a revised North American trade pact, fulfilling a longstanding political promise with a deal he celebrated as a "groundbreaking achievement".
But the agreement still must be ratified by the legislative bodies of all three countries - a process that could take months and could be complicated by the Trump administration's tariffs on aluminum and steel and by the House Democrats' return to power in January.
The negotiations were long and at times acrimonious, with Freeland and her delegation learning first-hand what it's like to negotiate with President Donald Trump's administration, in particular his trade emissaries - U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and his deputy, C.J. Mahoney. That could prove a hard task in the USA, especially now that Democrats - instead of Trump's Republicans - will control the House come January.
"Great battles sometimes make great friends", he said. "This is a model agreement that changes the trade landscape forever".
Canada, the USA and Mexico will now move forward with their respective domestic procedures toward the ratification and implementation of the new trade agreement.
In a letter released Thursday, the Dairy Farmers of Canada warned that the text of the deal gives the US too much say over how the Canadian system is managed, and urged the government to stand down until that provision is excised.
The USMCA, which needs to be ratified by lawmakers from the three countries, requires at least 40 percent of vehicle production to come from factories with an average wage of US$16 per hour, which can put Mexico, a low-priced production hub, at a disadvantage. No one has been spared in that trade fight - not even Canada and Mexico, the top two buyers of USA goods.
Trump acknowledged the often hard path during negotiations and praised the outcome.
Advertisment It's official. Canada, Mexico and the United States have entered into a new North American free trade agreement.
"We believe the best time to do it is this Congress before Democrats take over in the House", said Sen.
The New York Democrat blasted the labor and environmental provisions in the USMCA as its now written as "too weak" and said the deal would have to "prove to be a net benefit to middle-class families and working people in our country" in order to win the congressional support it needs to pass. Trudeau has a majority in Canada's House of Commons but faces an election next October. The abrupt announcement came not long after his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, admitted lying to Congress to cover up that he was negotiating a real estate deal in Moscow on Trump's behalf during the Republican presidential primary in 2016.
"I look forward to working with members of Congress", he said.
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Hawks in his administration have also been eager to see broader changes in Chinese industrial and technology policy. "Maybe I won't have the meeting", Trump said, according to The Washington Post.
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Still, Trump projected confidence, saying: "It's been so well reviewed I don't expect to have very much of a problem".
The United States, Canada and Mexico finally signed a new trade deal following intense negotiations.
The three countries agreed to the USMCA just hours before a US -imposed September 30 deadline. "That economic growth will be a boon to the American trucking industry - which already moves 82% of the freight that crosses the Mexican border and 68% that crosses our border with Canada - as well as to consumers in all three countries".
Friday is an important deadline: Saturday, a new Mexican president takes over who could scramble the agreement. There will have to be more investment by Toyota, Honda, Mercedes, and the Germans and Koreans. The U.S. continues to push for a quota in exchange for lifting the tariffs on Canada and Mexico, which have applied their own retaliatory levies.
But Trump has grown increasingly frustrated with Democrats, telling people in his orbit that he believes they would rather turn their backs on a "great deal" than see him achieve one of his top campaign goals, according to a person who has spoken to the president in the past week.
"The big advantage with the USMCA is it will maintain zero duty access", said Dave Warren, a spokesman for the National Pork Council.
Trudeau on November 30 pressed for a resolution to the tariff spat.
At the USMCA signing ceremony, Trudeau attempted to press the USA president on steel and aluminum tariffs.
U.S. objections to Canada's protected internal market for dairy products was a major challenge facing negotiators during the talks, and Trump repeatedly demanded concessions and accused Canada of hurting United States farmers. "It's something we're turning our attention to", he said. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, who signed the letter. The foremost allow exclusions from any US auto tariffs up to a certain quota that's set well above current Canadian and Mexican auto production.
At the beginning of his remarks, Trump also acknowledged the process to negotiate the United States-Mexico-Canada agreement has been "a battle".
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