Canada signs USMCA on sidelines of high-stakes G20 summit

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

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

The US National Retail Federation welcomed the signing of the new agreement and urged the US Government to remove steel and aluminum tariffs from Canada and Mexico.

Trudeau also brought up the recent announcement by General Motors that the company will be closing several factories in both the USA and Canada, calling it a "heavy blow".

Trump ceremoniously signed the new agreement, called the U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement, in Buenos Aires this morning with Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexico's President Enrique Peña Nieto.

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 deal will also need approval of the House, which transfers to Democratic control in January.

The chapter on agriculture in the deal has reportedly not alleviated the Canadian agriculture industry's fear that the United States strong-armed its way to getting more than Canada meant to give up, according to a Canadian newspaper report. The United States, for its part, wants Canada and Mexico to accept quotas that would force them to export less of the metals to the United States, said sources briefed on the negotiations. Carmakers had strong reactions to the United States-Mexico-Canada agreement (USMCA) reached this week.

After much anticipation, Canada signed the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement in Buenos Aires today on the sidelines of the high-profile G20 summit.

In an interview this week with Bloomberg, Toomey said that the USMCA is "frankly, not really as good as the underlying NAFTA".

Both Trump and Trudeau noted the deal was signed on Nieto's final day in office and thanked him for his work.

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Congress is likely to wait to vote on the deal until the United States International Trade Commission releases a report on the economic impact.

'Our objective has always been to sign this agreement on November 30 and we are on track to hit that objective, ' Freeland said shortly after the Canadian delegation arrived in Argentina, according to the Canadian Press.

With his "America First" approach, general distaste for multinational deals and habit of insulting allies, Trump typically gets a mixed reception at global gatherings.

Trump, standing in between his Canadian and Mexican counterparts, said the new deal was a model agreement that would stop auto jobs from going overseas, protect intellectual property rights and provide robust protections for digital trade and financial services. Trump tweeted before leaving his hotel for his first meeting, a short one with Argentinian President Mauricio Macri at Casa Rosada, the famous pink governmental palace.

However, the agreement does make some changes to the more controversial "Investor-State Dispute Settlement" powers, which critics said had allowed powerful companies and wealthy investors to invalidate local laws and court decisions through unaccountable arbitration. "We've taken a lot of barbs and a little abuse, but we got there", Trump said of the pact.

"However, we remain concerned that the continued imposition of steel and aluminium tariffs on Canada and Mexico will undermine the benefits of the USMCA", added Blunt, who heads the American Automotive Policy Council.

That subject is a hot topic, especially as Trump prepares to meet face-to-face with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

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