Published: Fri, November 30, 2018
Money | By Ralph Mccoy

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

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

A day before Canada, the United States and Mexico are due to sign a new trade pact, the three sides are still finalizing some of the details, Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said on Thursday.

"As I discussed with President Trump a few days ago, the recent plant closures by General Motors, which affects thousands of Canadian and American workers and their families, are a heavy blow", Trudeau said alongside U.S. President Donald Trump and Mexico's outgoing President Enrique Pena Nieto on the sidelines of the highly-anticipated G20 summit in Buenos Aires before the new trade pact was officially signed.

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.

Trudeau said the deal "lifts the risk of serious economic uncertainty that lingers throughout a trade renegotiation process - uncertainty that would have only gotten worse and more damaging if we had not reached a new NAFTA".

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With a new deal on the table that's supposed to represent a new era of tariff-free trade, all three countries have been working on resolving the standoff before Friday.

The deal 'changes the trade landscape forever, ' Trump said.

A particular sore point for the Canadian prime minister are the USA tariffs on steel and aluminium imposed earlier this year and he said these should be removed.

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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 US imposed on its North American neighbors.

American dairy and pork farmers have been particularly hurt by retaliatory Mexican tariffs. To placate critics of the original NAFTA negotiated under Republican president George H.W. Bush, Democratic president Bill Clinton negotiated "side letters" adding some new provisions.

The president has repeatedly called NAFTA "the worst trade deal ever" and came close to withdrawing the United States from it within months of taking office.

Friday's signing ceremony is a crowning moment for Trump, who loves to tout his deal-making prowess.

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.

"Our nations have also agreed to innovate new measures to ensure fair competition and promote high wages and higher wages for U.S. and North American workers, the. workers are tremendous beneficiary".

Lawmakers in the USA have already signalled they don't expect to deal with the USMCA until after the new Congress is sworn in early next year.

Mr Trump also acknowledged Congress had not yet approved the deal.

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