Canada signs onto new NAFTA on sidelines of high-stakes G20 summit

President Donald Trump center shakes hands with Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto looks on after they signed a new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement that is replacing the NAFTA trade deal during a

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.

For starters, USA -imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum exports remain in place against both Canada and Mexico, as do a raft of countermeasures.

The signing by the three leaders was a formality - it was the three of them issuing a directive to their trade representatives to finish the final pact.

As the G20 summit began in Argentina on Friday, the U.S. president told reporters that the deal "changes the trade landscape forever". But enough has been tweaked for Trump to declare victory on behalf of the USA workers he claims were cheated by NAFTA.

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.

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

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters here on Thursday that there was still some fine tuning to do on the new trade pact before they would sign.

The new trade deal, which will govern more than a trillion dollars of trade, came after more than a year of acrimonious negotiations.

"As is always the case ... with these agreements, there are always details to be finalized and we are very hard at work doing that", Freeland said in televised remarks.

Despite the symbolism of Friday's signing, Trump has no meetings with Trudeau scheduled while the two are in Argentina.

President Donald Trump Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau right and Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Neto left participate in the USMCA signing ceremony Friday Nov. 30 2018 in Buenos Aires Argentina
Canada signs onto new NAFTA on sidelines of high-stakes G20 summit

There are a few areas still to iron out.

Canada has repeatedly referred to the new trade deal as the "New NAFTA" rather than USMCA.

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

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

The agreement was signed by Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto on his last day in office.

Even as Trump celebrates the new deal as a win for the country, the agreement still needs to be ratified by the new Congress, where Democrats believe the new deal doesn't protect American workers.

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

He described General Motors' plant closures that had hit thousands of USA and Canadian families as a "heavy blow".

Trump, who has called NAFTA the worst trade deal in world history, has wrongly insisted that he is terminating NAFTA and replacing it with something entirely new.

Trudeau's readout on the same call also mentioned lifting the tariffs the USA imposed on steel and aluminum. 'The Prime Minister also reinforced the importance of both countries lifting the tariffs on steel and aluminum'.

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