Canada-US reach deal to stay in trade pact with Mexico

07 October, 2018, 02:19 | Author: Sheri Evans
  • Ottawa and Washington have been at odds over Canada's managed dairy sector and the dispute resolution provisions in NAFTA

The new deal reached just before the midnight deadline imposed by the USA, will be called the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA.

Chevrolet Equinox SUVs are parked awaiting shipment by CN Rail next to the General Motors Co (GM) CAMI assembly plant in Ingersoll, Ontario, Canada October 13, 2017.

But with Canada and Mexico being the United States' two biggest export markets, the U.S. apparel industry risked being hurt if one of the partners were left out of a new deal.

Trump said last week he didn't like Canada's trade negotiator, in an apparent reference to Freeland.

In June, Washington imposed steep import tariffs on steel (25 percent) and aluminum (10 percent) from Mexico, Canada and the European Union. The quotas are significantly above existing production volumes in each country, allowing for some export growth.

Notably, the prime minister did not mention Trump in his opening remarks, saying only in answer to a direct question that the relationship with the president has been challenging during the course of tumultuous negotiations.

While Trump's goals for revising NAFTA were to shrink USA trade deficits, claw back lost manufacturing jobs and add new IP protections and digital trade chapters, the new pact leaves North American trade flows largely unaltered.

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"Without tariffs we wouldn't be talking about a deal", he said.

The pact, underpinning $1.2 trillion in annual trade, is based on "fairness and reciprocity", according to Trump, who added that it was reached after disagreements with his counterparts in Mexico City and Ottawa, Enrique Pena Nieto and Justin Trudeau.

Indeed, Canadian influence in Congress may have helped discourage U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer from trying to push senators into approving the bilateral deal he forged with Mexico, said Dan Uczjo, an global trade lawyer in OH with the U.S. firm Dickinson Wright.

A side letter published along with the main text of the agreement exempts a percentage of eligible auto exports from the tariffs.

The most significant difference between NAFTA and the USMCA may be as simple as the rebranding exercise itself, which some observers said would hand Trump political capital, regardless of its substance. "He's a professional. I'm a professional", Trump said, calling it a "fair deal".

Canada has long held high tariffs on most dairy products, leading to higher prices than in the USA, while Trump has argued that the U.S. industry should be able to sell more products to its northern neighbour.

"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". And now for our farmers it's, as you know, substantially opened up much more.

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Canada is back in a revamped North American free trade deal with the United States and Mexico after weeks of bitter, high-pressure negotiations that brushed up against a midnight deadline.

About 75 percent of Canada's exports go to the USA, so preserving major elements of the North American Free Trade Agreement was crucial.

For the USA oil industry, which was anxious that Mexico's incoming president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, will treat foreign investors unfavorably in the energy sector, the deal provided new assurances.

Like many other Canadians, Rosen feels Canada hasn't been treated with respect, referring to the personal attacks and steel exports that are still subject to US tariffs over what Trump calls national security concerns. "Even when I'm dealing with a hard business issue, I don't belittle people, I don't insult them", Rosen said.

"I think it's going to pass with a substantial majority", predicts U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

"We Canadians understand how close our ties with the United States are, how critical they are, but also that they are big and we are small".

The agreement includes a quota on automobile shipments to the US and a greater level of access to Canada's dairy market.

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