Published: Fri, November 30, 2018
Business | By Eloise Houston

Trump signs trade pact with Canada and Mexico to replace Nafta

Trump signs trade pact with Canada and Mexico to replace Nafta

Legislators from the three countries still have to approve the pact, officially known as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), before it goes into effect and replaces the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

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

"Donald, it's all the more reason why we need to keep working to remove the tariffs on steel and aluminum between our two countries", Trudeau said.

"With hard work, good will and determination I'm confident that we will get there", Trudeau said.

Mr Pena Nieto, who will be replaced on Saturday with Mexico's newly-elected president, has sold the deal to his people as a victory, saving free trade from a USA president who wanted to see it killed. He has slapped tariffs on the European Union, pulled the US out of the landmark Paris Climate Accord and the Iran nuclear deal and suggested he might be willing to pull the USA out of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation if member countries don't significantly boost their defense spending.

The Prime Minister's Office confirmed the signing late Thursday after a day of some uncertainty, with Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland saying there were still details to be finalized before the three countries could formally sign the "massive" deal.

When the agreement was reached in October, the president called it 'truly historic news for our nation and the world'.

Trade will dominate Mr. Trump's conversations at the meeting of the world's leaders, including a high-stakes dinner Saturday with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Trump opened Friday with a cordial meeting at the Casa Rosada with Argentine President Mauricio Macri, a longtime business acquaintance.

There are a few areas still to iron out.

Since then, the three sides have bickered over the wording and the finer points of the deal and still had not agreed just hours before officials were due to sit down and sign it as the Group of 20 summit kicks off in Buenos Aires.

Mexico's ambassador to the United States, Gerónimo Gutiérrez, told reporters earlier this month that his government expected that there would be "either a solution or a very clear track to a solution" by the time the deal was signed.

'A vast number of technical details need to be scrubbed and wrapped up, ' Freeland said.

In Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador will also take over the presidency from Nieto, though he indicated his support for the new agreement.

Trump acknowledged that Friday was Pena Nieto's last day in office and congratulated him on the achievement of signing on to the deal. 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 two leaders discussed their disappointment in the announced closures of General Motors plants in their respective countries and their plans for the upcoming G20 Summit'.

The deal will open Canada's dairy market to US products, including fluid milks, cream, butter and cheese.

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