Published: Sat, December 01, 2018
Markets | By Otis Pena

New NAFTA is now signed, but nobody knows what to call it

New NAFTA is now signed, but nobody knows what to call it

Trump called the measure the "largest, most significant, modern and balanced trade agreement in history", during his remarks with Trudeau and Nieto.

Major U.S. industries and agricultural interests are also unhappy that the president has not yet removed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Mexico and Canada, as administration officials promised during the final stages of the three-way negotiations.

Trump, Trudeau and Nieto failed to mention the LGBT provisions during the event in which they signed the agreement.

PHOTO: President Donald Trump delivers a statement along with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, on the signing of a new free trade agreement in Buenos Aires, Nov. 30, 2018. The deal still needs approval from the three countries' legislatures. The USMCA trade deal is due to be signed on Friday on the sidelines of the summit.

Friday marked an important deadline for the trade pact because a new Mexican president takes over Saturday who might not honour the tentative deal struck by his predecessor. Instead, Trump focused on the size of the agreement and new opportunities for American businesses.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the agreement will help maintain the stability of Canada's economy.

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.

The president bluntly addressed the periodically rocky relations during the signing ceremony, asserting: "We've worked hard on this agreement".

Trump spent more than a year pushing the leaders of Canada and Mexico into agreeing to a rewrite of North American trade rules.

In Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador will also take over the presidency from Nieto, though he indicated his support for the new agreement.

"It's great for all of our countries", Trump said, on a more optimistic note.

Trump barrels into G-20 summit after nixing Putin meeting
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". In the USA , as Politico notes , that could mean "months of fierce debate between the Trump administration and Congress".

This may prove most challenging for Mr Trump, as the Democrats take control of the House of Representatives from January.

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.

It was unclear what exactly the three countries have signed.

TRUMP: "I look forward to working with members of Congress and the USMCA partners - and I have to say, it's been so well reviewed, I don't expect to have very much of a problem - to ensure the complete implementation of our agreement".

Legislative approval is the next step in the process, but could prove to be a hard task in the United States, especially now that Democrats - instead of Trump's Republicans - will control the House of Representatives come January.

And dairy remains a sticking point with the influential Canadian dairy lobby urging Trudeau's government not to sign the trade deal as it gives the United States expanded access to Canada's dairy, egg, and poultry markets.

But the path to Friday's signing has been bruising, and those sore spots will be impossible to ignore when the three countries' leaders gather to talk trade for the first time since 13 months of talks culminated in an 11th-hour agreement late in September.

"Uncertainty that would only have got worse if we had not reached a new NAFTA".

For the Sierra Club, a USA environmentalist group, the "hastily sealed" deal will promote Trump's "polluting legacy for years after he leaves office (via) special handouts to corporate polluters like Chevron and ExxonMobil".

In a letter released Thursday, the Dairy Farmers of Canada warned that the text of the deal gives the USA too much say over how the Canadian system is managed, and urged the government to stand down until that provision is excised.

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