Published: Sat, December 01, 2018
Money | By Ralph Mccoy

Trump signs new trade deal with Canada and Mexico

Trump signs new trade deal with Canada and Mexico

"With our signatures today we will formally declare the intention of our three countries to replace NAFTA with the USMCA".

At the event, on the sidelines of an global summit opening in Buenos Aires, Trump touted the hard-fought deal as "a truly groundbreaking achievement" and proudly held up the signed agreement for the cameras at the conclusion of a short ceremony.

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

He also said, "the task isn't done, more hard work is ahead".

Trudeau has shown contempt for the USMCA name, saying sarcastically at a Toronto business convention in October that the new name made a "big" difference in its quality. He opted not to hold up the agreement to showcase the leaders' signatures. Carmakers had strong reactions to the United States-Mexico-Canada agreement (USMCA) reached this week.

Trump, who repeatedly branded NAFTA as the "worst trade deal ever made", said earlier he will not back down from his pledge for the United States to quit the agreement, if his concerns were not met. "We make new deal or go back to pre-NAFTA!" he said.

The new agreement doesn't lift the tariffs on steel and aluminum, with both the Mexican and Canadian governments stating their displeasure that the issue has not yet been solved.

Vows to scrap NAFTA and replace it with a better deal also were staples of Trump's campaign rallies across the industrial Midwest in 2016.

The deal - 32 chapters, 11 annexes and 12 side letters - sets new rules for the auto sector, including a higher threshold for North American content and rules requiring 40 per cent of vehicle parts be made by workers paid at least $16 an hour.

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".

"Tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum are entirely inconsistent with the overall goals of the USMCA", according to a letter signed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and groups representing auto, chemical, grocery, retail and agricultural interests.

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

"We need to keep working to remove the tariffs on steel and aluminum between our countries", Trudeau said, standing next to Trump at the ceremony.

"We've taken a lot of barbs and a little abuse and we got there", Trump said thanking Trudeau and Pena Nieto.

"This has been a battle", Trump said in remarks right before the leaders put pen to paper. "You don't see that happen very often".

Trump noted the signing in Argentina comes on the last day in office for the Mexican president, who is being succeeded by leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, elected five months ago.

Prior to the signing ceremony, Peña Nieto awarded Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law and advisor, who was involved throughout the trade talks, the Order of the Aztec Eagle, Mexico's highest award.

His government is officially calling the pact the Canada-US-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA).

Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland speaks to media on the roof of the Panamericano Hotel in Buenos Aires, Argentina on Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018, to attend the G20 summit. "We have challenged and are continuing our legal challenges".

The hard part awaits Trump back in Washington. He said that NAFTA had a bad connotation in the USA due to the negative effects of the agreement in the country, and that it is better to start fresh.

Meanwhile, Mr Trump's other major trade-related meeting during the G20 summit will be with China's leader Xi Jinping on Saturday, with analysts looking for any sign that the U.S. president will hold off on plans to toughen USA tariffs on Chinese imports in January.

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