Published: Fri, November 30, 2018
Markets | By Otis Pena

Trump barrels into G-20 summit after nixing Putin meeting

Trump barrels into G-20 summit after nixing Putin meeting

Replacing the NAFTA fulfills a top campaign promise by Mr. Trump, who called the 1994 agreement the "worst deal ever made" that hastened the demise of USA manufacturing.

"Just signed one of the most important, and largest, Trade Deals in US and World History", said the US President.

But he insisted that the "incredible milestone" would aid United States workers, especially in the auto industry, while putting in place "intellectual property protection that will be the envy of nations all around the world". The deal still needs approval from the three countries' legislatures.

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

USMCA will govern more than $1tn worth of trade between the countries.

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 USA and Canada, Trudeau did, calling it a "heavy blow". He has slapped tariffs on the European Union, pulled the US out of the landmark Paris Climate Accord and the Iran nuclear deal and suggested he might be willing to pull the USA out of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation if member countries don't significantly boost their defense spending. In the USA, as Politico notes, that could mean "months of fierce debate between the Trump administration and Congress".

Asked Thursday why the two had no meeting scheduled, Trump said: "I would have met with him but we didn't set that one up".

It preserves a contentious dispute-resolution system the US dearly wanted gone, extends patent protections for biologic drugs and allows USA farmers a 3.6-per-cent share of Canada's famously guarded market for poultry, eggs and dairy products - a concession that dismayed Canadian dairy producers.

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In early October, the U.S., Canada, and Mexico finally agreed to a trilateral trade deal to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA.

The U.S. continues to push for a quota in exchange for lifting the tariffs on Canada and Mexico, which have applied their own retaliatory levies.

Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto joined the ceremony on his last day in office.

The negotiations were long and at times acrimonious, with Freeland and her delegation learning first-hand what it's like to negotiate with President Donald Trump's administration, in particular his trade emissaries - U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and his deputy, C.J. Mahoney.

Mr Trudeau told Trump at the signing that the two leaders should work together to reduce those tariffs.

Trudeau and Trump discussed their plans for the G20 summit in a November 27 phone call, according to the White House.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's spokesman only confirmed his attendance late on Thursday.

Trudeau's readout on the same call also mentioned lifting the tariffs the US imposed on steel and aluminum.

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