BUENOS AIRES: The leaders of the United States, Mexico and Canada on Friday signed a new trade deal replacing the old NAFTA in a triumph for President Donald Trump who insisted on what he said were better conditions for US workers.
“This is a model agreement that changes the trade landscape forever,” Trump said at the signing ceremony in Buenos Aires, on the sidelines of a summit between the leaders of the G20 countries.
Trump said negotiating the deal known as the USMCA had seen the leaders take “a lot of barbs and a little abuse.”
But he insisted that the “incredible milestone” would aid US workers, especially in the auto industry, while putting in place “intellectual property protection that will be the envy of nations all around the world.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was less effusive about the renegotiated regional trade deal, but said the USMCA would resolve the threat of “serious economic uncertainty” that “would have gotten more damaging.”
While praising the “historic” nature of the deal, Trudeau also told Trump that the progress gave “all the more reason why we need to keep working to remove the tariffs on steel and aluminum between our countries.”
Mexican President Pena Nieto, on his last day in office, called the revamped version of NAFTA important in shoring up “the view of an integrated North America with the firm belief that together we are stronger and more competitive.”
For Trump — whose G20 diplomacy is overshadowed by legal troubles back home and his abrupt cancellation of a bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin — the signing was a victory.
He said he did not foresee a problem in getting congressional approval. “It’s been so well reviewed I don’t expect to have very much of a problem,” he said.
The USMCA “marks a critical step in modernizing and rebalancing North American trade,” US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.
“The new agreement secures strong outcomes for farmers, ranchers, businesses, and workers across North America, including in areas such as auto manufacturing and intellectual property.” —AFP