Tariff tensions shadow US, Canada, Mexico trade pact signing

02 December, 2018, 15:30 | Author: Donnie King
  • President Donald Trump center shakes hands with Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto looks on after they signed a new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement that is replacing the NAFTA trade deal during a

There is more work to be done, Trudeau said, calling the recent announcement that General Motors will close plants in Canada and the USA "a heavy blow".

US president Donald Trump, left, and Justin Trudeau, Canada's prime minister, smile during a news conference before the signing of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) at the G-20 Leaders' Summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Friday Nov. 30, 2018.

"Revamping the new trade agreement was aimed to preserve the view of an integrated North America with the firm belief that together we are stronger and more competitive", he said in remarks translated from Spanish.

The administration will need Democratic support too, as the party takes control of the House next year.

"Canadians got here because Team Canada was driven by the interests of the middle class", Trudeau said.

"We admire the [U.S.] trade representative and the attempts he has made to make us aware of what is in it".

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.

NAFTA was signed by Canada, Mexico, and the United States in 1993 and came into force in 1994, during the presidency of Bill Clinton.

The deal's completion lifts the economic uncertainty created by the acrimonious 15-month negotiation process, an uncertainty that "only would have gotten worse" had the parties not reached a new agreement, Trudeau said at the signing ceremony.

President Donald Trump Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau right and Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Neto left participate in the USMCA signing ceremony Friday Nov. 30 2018 in Buenos Aires Argentina
Trump signs trade deal with Canada and Mexico

Trump hailed the deal as the biggest and most balanced trade agreement in history, adding the three partners would all benefit.

Trump has made renegotiating NAFTA a centrepiece of his presidency.

In an interview this week with Bloomberg, Toomey said that the USMCA is "frankly, not really as good as the underlying NAFTA".

Trump acknowledged that Friday was Pena Nieto's last day in office and congratulated him on the achievement of signing on to the deal. It updates the trade pact to reflect the rise of the digital economy since the original NAFTA took effect almost a quarter century ago.

"We've known each other a long while", Trump said, noting he worked with Macri's father on real estate developments. The United States is naturally putting America first with USMCA.

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.

For Trump - whose G20 diplomacy is overshadowed by legal troubles back home and his abrupt cancellation of a bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin - the signing was a victory. "We've taken a lot of barbs and a little abuse and we got there", Trump said of the pact. The agreement includes a new rule, for example, that a vehicle will only be freed from tariffs if 40 per cent or more of its contents are produced by workers earning $16 (U.S.) per hour or more.

Retaliatory tariffs by Mexico have harmed US dairy and pork farmers.

Trump opened Friday with a cordial meeting at the Casa Rosada with Argentine President Mauricio Macri, a longtime business acquaintance. The news ensured any meeting with Putin would have put a spotlight on the United States special counsel's investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow during the election.




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