Trump Hails 'Terrific' Trade Deal with Canada, Mexico

Andrew Cummings
October 2, 2018

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would only say it was a "good day for Canada" as he left a late-night cabinet meeting in Ottawa that capped several days of frenetic long-distance talks that included Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and U.S. Ambassador David MacNaughton.

The U.S. and Canada reached a deal to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement, signed a quarter-century ago, with a new pact that the Trump administration says is easier to enforce.

Trump told reporters, "Once approved by Congress, this new deal will be the most modern, up to date and balanced trade agreement in the history of our country, with the most advanced protections for workers ever developed".

"When this got started, Canada was the teacher's pet and Mexico was the problem child", said Michael Camunez, president of Monarch Global Strategies and a former U.S. Commerce Department official. For example, it opens up about 3.5% of Canada's protected dairy market to United States farmers and allows Canadians to purchase five times the amount of foreign products online without paying an additional import tax.

The new deal avoids the collapse of the North American Free Trade Agreement or NAFTA.

After more than a year of talks, and six weeks of intense discussions, the governments were able to overcome their differences with both sides conceding some ground, but both hailing the agreement as a good deal for their citizens in the region of 500 million residents that conducts about $1 trillion in trade a year.

US farm groups said their first goal in negotiations for the new NAFTA was to maintain duty-free access for farm exports to Canada and Mexico, followed by such issues as Canada's supply management system for dairy, poultry, and eggs.

Following years of threats from Trump and the promise of establishing a new deal more favorable to the USA, the latest agreement appears to represent a win for the White House. Canadian, U.S. and Mexican politicians have been negotiating for months over what to keep, what to lose and what to compromise within the agreement, which oversees all trade relations between the three countries. Congress needs to approve the agreement, and it needs to be ratified in Mexico and Canada as well.

Mulroney, who negotiated the original NAFTA, said he had not yet studied the full text. Canadian sources said the Canadian government was prepared to offer compensation to dairy farmers hurt by the deal. This means more American products would be the shelves, potentially depressing demand for Canadian dairy products. But the agreement will now push Canada's current copyright terms, which stood at 50 years past the author's life, to 70 years so that it can fall in line with USA protections. Washington has already reached a bilateral deal with Mexico, the third NAFTA member.

US officials, in recent weeks, had been adamant that the text for a new deal - whether it would only be with Mexico or also include Canada - to be released by September 30 to meet congressional notification requirements and to allow outgoing Mexican President Pena Nieto to be able to sign the deal before he is succeeded by Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, a left-wing populist.

"For the most part, this was a defensive deal for Canada", he said in an interview.

"That tells me that there's an agreement that works for all of us, and so, to me, that's what we wanted all along", Perez said.

"I look forward to reviewing this deal to confirm it meets the high standards of Trade Promotion Authority", he said in a statement.

"It removes that uncertainty that was hanging over the sector, in terms of our access to this North American market, in terms of the rules related to our integrated North American supply chain".

He won a big concession by persuading Ottawa to take steps to open up its highly protected dairy industry - which has long blocked US competition with import quotas and tariffs as high as 300 percent.

Other reports by iNewsToday