Trump claims win as US, Mexico, Canada sign new trade deal

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto U.S. President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sign the new trade agreement to replace NAFTA on Friday Nov. 30 2018

Even as Trump, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto - on his final day in office - prepared to sign the deal on the sidelines of the G-20 meeting, officials from the three countries were continuing to haggle over terms for lifting the US tariffs, and details of the signing ceremony were in flux.

Trump himself acknowledged that it hadn't been easy, but said "battles sometimes make great friendships".

While Trump hailed the revised trade pact, Trudeau was more measured and used the event to call on Trump to remove the steel and aluminium tariffs the US slapped on Canada and Mexico.

He also addressed the president as "Donald" in arguing the tariffs need to be removed.

Inked by the North American leaders on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, the deal, formally called the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) in the US, comes after more than a year of negotiations.

The three countries continued to talk out the agreement all the way up to the signing ceremony. It was not clear until just a day earlier that the ceremony would go through amid ongoing Canadian protests over US-imposed steel and aluminum tariffs. The USMCA trade deal is due to be signed on Friday on the sidelines of the summit. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., a likely Democratic presidential candidate, said Thursday that she would oppose the trade pact as inadequate for American workers, foreshadowing a possible 2020 campaign plank. "Our shared interests, prosperity and security demand it", he added.

So important. I'm honored to be here with president Enrique Peña Nieto, become a great friend of Mexico, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who has also become a great friend.

The final text of the deal also clarifies how vehicle exports from Canada and Mexico will be protected if President Donald Trump follows through on threats to impose 25-per-cent tariffs on autos brought into the United States.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the revamped NAFTA signed today in Buenos Aires provides stability for Canada's economy.

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

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The side letters left unchanged the overall quota of autos (2.6 million units annually for each country) and auto parts (US$108-billion for Mexico and $32.4-billion annually for Canada) that the countries will be allowed to send to the United States without paying a potential 25-per-cent tariff.

Meanwhile, the deal still needs to be ratified by lawmakers in all three countries.

Relations between the us and Canada took repeated blows during the negotiation Trump initiated in August 2017, largely because of his public attacks on Trudeau.

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.

There's New York, New York, the proverbial "city so nice they named it twice", but it's debatable whether the trade deal that Canada, Mexico and the United States signed Friday at the G20 summit will earn similar repetition.

When the three countries reached the deal at the end of September, Trump said he was not at all confident of obtaining congressional approval.

Mexico has also agreed to labor reforms, while Canada agreed to increase market access for US "dairy products, eggs, and poultry".

Tucked in the agreement is a provision that appears created to stop either Canada or Mexico from seeking a better deal with Beijing.

"We do have to call it USMCA, that is what it is", she told CBC Toronto's Metro Morning on October 2 after the deal was agreed to in principle.

For the auto sector, USMCA increases the regional content of tariff-free vehicles and requires that 40 per cent of a car be made by workers earning at least US$16 an hour, a shift that favours USA and Canadian assembly plants over low-wage Mexican assembly lines.

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