Trump signs new trade deal with Canada and Mexico

Gladys Abbott
November 30, 2018

Standing between Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto, Mr Trump said: "As part of our agreement, the United States will be able to lock in our market access to Canada and Mexico, and greatly expand our cultural exports - something we've been wanting to do for many years".

The USMCA deal emerged in early October, months after President Trump hit Mexico and Canada with tariffs on their steel and aluminum products. The deal still needs to win congressional approval in Washington, where key members of both political parties have already expressed significant concerns.

'It's been so well reviewed I don't anticipate much of a problem, ' he said.

Saying that all three countries will benefit from the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, Trump said "it is probably the largest trade deal ever made". The celebratory moment was dimmed by ongoing differences over Trump's steel and aluminum tariffs, as well as plans for massive layoffs in the USA and Canada by General Motors.

"We have worked hard on this agreement", Trump said.

While Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland will be at the event, the three leaders will sign the deal.

But the three leaders sat down to put ink to paper, signing a deal that has a few questions hanging over it - mainly the fate of steel and aluminum tariffs the USA imposed on its North American neighbors.

While Trump did not mention General Motors' announcement on Tuesday that it would lay off 15 percent of its workers and close five plants in the US and Canada, Trudeau did, calling it a "heavy blow".

Mr Trudeau told Trump at the signing that the two leaders should work together to reduce those tariffs. The president tweeted in March that the steel and aluminum levies would "only come off if new & fair NAFTA agreement is signed".

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"A vast number of technical details need to be scrubbed and wrapped up", she added.

Friday marked an important deadline for the trade pact.

After the three countries' leaders sign the pact, it must be ratified by their respective legislatures.

Outgoing Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto is attending the G20 meeting.

'President Trump spoke with Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau this morning, ' spokesman Hogan Gidley said in a statement.

Legislators from the three countries still have to approve the pact, officially known as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), before it goes into effect and replaces the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

The USMCA - which overhauls the rules covering more than $1.2 trillion in regional commerce - faces major hurdles next year in Congress, where Democrats will control the House and may be reluctant to help Trump to fulfill a 2016 campaign promise.

American dairy and pork farmers have been particularly hurt by retaliatory Mexican tariffs.

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