Is Trump's new trade deal really a landmark?

President Trump sits between Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau right and Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto as they sign the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement which that is replacing the NAFTA trade deal during a ceremony Friday

U.S. President Donald Trump, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto signed a trade agreement to replace NAFTA on Friday-a deal some lawmakers and advocacy groups say is still fundamentally flawed as it stomps on the rights of workers and the environment and empowers "the corporate one percent at the expense of the rest of us".

"Battles sometimes make great friendships", Trump said, looking to put a positive gloss on his fraught relationship with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

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 aluminium between our countries".

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

Yet, amid squabbling between the United States and Canada, the details of the deal are still being worked on, less than a day before the scheduled November 30 signing date on the sidelines of the Group of 20 world leaders summit in Buenos Aires.

In early October, the U.S., Canada, and Mexico finally agreed to a trilateral trade deal to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA.

Steel and aluminum tariffs, once seen as a pressure tactic in trade talks, remain in place.

But in a statement, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the updated pact "marks a critical step in modernising and rebalancing North American trade". Instead, Trump focused on the size of the agreement and new opportunities for American businesses.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was truer to the nature of the deal in his remarks at the signing, saying it "maintains stability", "lifts the risk of serious economic uncertainty" and secures the duty-free access to markets achieved under NAFTA.

Perhaps its most significant changes are related to the auto industry, for which Trump insisted on new protectionist provisions meant to wrest some manufacturing back from Mexico and overseas.

"We've taken a lot of barbs and a little abuse and we got there", Trump said after the signing.

Sen. Marco Rubio is not on board with President Donald Trump's new trade deal with Canada and Mexico. Our great Country is extremely well represented.

Trump, who arrived in Buenos Aires late Thursday, barreled into the two-day meeting by announcing via Twitter that he was canceling a planned meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin over Russia's seizure of Ukrainian vessels.

The new deal - the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) was signed between the nations on the sidelines of the G20 meeting in Argentina.

The signing of the three-way trade pact is largely ceremonial because it still needs to be ratified by all three countries before it can formally take effect. It covers the same three countries as before.

The opposition Democrats take control of the House in January. The longstanding trilateral deal was roundly criticized by the United States protectionist right, as well as the anti-globalization left, particularly for the damage that eliminating tariffs did to the USA auto industry.

Overhanging the summit in Buenos Aires, the Argentine capital, is a trade dispute between the United States and China, the world's two largest economies, which have imposed tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars of each other's imports.

THE FACTS: That may be too optimistic a read on the chances for congressional ratification of the deal.

The new agreement requires that 75 percent of each vehicle granted duty-free treatment be made in North America - up from 62.5 percent under NAFTA - and requires a significant amount of manufacturing be performed by workers earning at least $16 an hour.

Pena Nieto said the new deal will provide a more "modern framework" for future exchanges between the countries. "Instead, we have a deal that locks in numerous old rules that have driven farmers out of agriculture for more than two decades".



Other news