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'Battle' over as Trudeau, Trump, Pena Nieto sign 'new NAFTA'

02 December, 2018, 15:32 | Author: Ted Wilson
  • President Trump sits between Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau right and Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto as they sign the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement which that is replacing the NAFTA trade deal during a ceremony Friday

In May this year, President Trump slapped increased tariffs on Canadian and Mexican steel and aluminium coming into the US.

"In the USA, the new trade pact will support high-paying manufacturing jobs and promote greater access for American exports across the range of sectors including our farming, manufacturing and service industries", Trump said.

President Donald Trump, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sign the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The USMCA covers such areas as tariffs, automobile industry, the intellectual property rights, labour standards, protection of the environment and agriculture and would replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

The signing of the trade agreement is largely ceremonial, because it will still need to be ratified by all three countries before it can formally take effect. With Democrats taking control of the House in January, its passage through Congress remains uncertain, but the president professed confidently that he didn't expect "much of a problem".

"There's much more work to do in lowering trade barriers and in fostering growth that benefits everyone", Trudeau said. Trump had commented how the USA did not like Canada's negotiation style.

It was not clear until just a day earlier that the ceremony would go through amid ongoing Canadian protests over US-imposed steel and aluminum tariffs. Most notably, he refused during his brief remarks to refer to the agreement by the name that the brand-conscious Trump had given it - the United States-Mexico-Canada agreement, or USMCA, an acronym that Trump says recalls the title of a catchy hit of 40 years ago, "YMCA".

Trump appeared with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and outgoing Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto at the Group of 20 nations summit in Buenos Aires for the formal signing ceremony. A senior White House official later said Trump and bin Salman exchanged pleasantries during a subsequent leaders' session.

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Mr Pena Nieto, who will be replaced on Saturday with Mexico's newly-elected president, has sold the deal to his people as a victory, saving free trade from a United States president who wanted to see it killed.

It gives U.S. dairy farmers a bit more access to the protected Canadian market.

During a speech Friday, the president called the new agreement one of the largest deals to re-balance trade in recent history.

However, the agreement does make some changes to the more controversial "Investor-State Dispute Settlement" powers, which critics said had allowed powerful companies and wealthy investors to invalidate local laws and court decisions through unaccountable arbitration. "In the United States, the new trade pact will promote high-paying manufacturing jobs and promote greater access for American exports across a range of sectors including our farming, manufacturing and service industries". The awful NAFTA will soon be gone. "We've taken a lot of barbs and a little abuse and we got there", Trump said after the signing.

Mexico has also agreed to labor reforms, while Canada agreed to increase market access for USA "dairy products, eggs, and poultry".

She added that she will vote on the deal only if President Trump revises it.

Trump faces a series of diplomatic challenges over the weekend, most notably whether he can strike an agreement with Xi.

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