Canada, Mexico and the U.S. Sign New North American Trade Pact

Canada on track for Friday signing of USMCA once details finalized: Freeland

Canada on track for Friday signing of USMCA once details finalized: Freeland

Trump is describing USMCA as a landmark trade agreement.

But many other steps will be needed before the new agreement takes effect.

"Make no mistake, we will stand up for our workers and fight for their families and their communities", he said, before addressing Trump directly.

The new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which would replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), must benefit middle-class families in the United States in order to receive majority support in Congress, a Democrat Chuck Schumer said. "The new NAFTA preserves tariff-free access in the North American trading bloc and secures essential cross-border supply chains that make North America more globally competitive" said the Honorable Chrystia Freeland, P.C., M.P., Minister of Foreign Affairs.

The signing ceremony in and of itself represented a political victory for Trump, who has been eager to mark the deal with a formal photo opportunity alongside Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and outgoing Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.

Mexico is expected to go first.

Pena Nieto, who will handoff to his successor Saturday, said he was honoured to be at the signing on the last day of his administration, saying it is the culmination of a long process "that allow us to overcome differences and to conciliate our visions".

It updates the trade pact to reflect the rise of the digital economy since the original NAFTA took effect almost a quarter century ago.

The USMCA, which needs to be ratified by lawmakers from the three countries, requires at least 40 percent of auto 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. Hailing the deal as "modern and balanced", the president said it will benefit US farmers, autoworkers and bring back manufacturing jobs.

"I look forward to working with members of Congress", Trump said.




It's unclear whether any changes in the implementing bill will go far enough to appease lawmakers.Democrats who are pushing for stronger labor and environmental standards, for example, take issue with those provisions in the original NAFTA because they were not written into the core text of the agreement but rather in side deals that critics felt aren't enforceable. Each country's legislature must also approve the agreement.

Despite a push by a handful of Republican senators to vote on the agreement during the lame-duck session, procedural hurdles make it nearly certain there won't be a vote until sometime next year when Democrats are controlling the House.

Separately, a smaller group of Republican senators even tried to convince the White House to hit the gas pedal on ratification efforts, fearful that the new influx of Democrats in the new year will make congressional approval of the deal "significantly more hard".

Fearing that passage will become more hard in 2019, a dozen Senate Republicans, led by Sen. We've taken a lot of barbs and a little abuse and we got there, ' Trump said after the signing.

The parts of the deal that kick in immediately upon signing are 13 provisions known as "side letters". Negotiators from all three countries began talks on updating it more than a year ago. His office did not respond Thursday to questions about whether he plans to stick to that timeline. But he said he could support it with a "few tweaks that move it in the direction of a more pro-trade agreement".

"There's absolutely no enthusiasm for Canada to be seen ahead of the curve in ratifying something that Congress is having difficulty with", Sosnow said.

Somewhat undercutting Trump's claim that Moscow's hostile actions were to blame for the newest tension between the United States and Russia, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders gave summit reporters a statement blaming the special counsel's probe for straining U.S. -Russia relations.

Sen. Pat Toomey, a Republican from Pennsylvania, has argued that the new requirements for auto production actually restrict trade and that the administration should lift the tariffs on steel and aluminum. Canada has said it will lift its tariffs once the USA lifts its own.

"Donald, it's all the more reason why we need to keep working to remove the tariffs on steel and aluminum between our countries", the Canadian leader said at the ceremony.

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