NAFTA 2.0: Trump delivers on another big promise

Geneva Stokes
October 2, 2018

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.

Late Sunday, the Trump administration announced it had reached a three-way trade agreement with Canada and Mexico, the U.S. -Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), replacing the NAFTA agreement that had been in place since 1994. A senior White House official told reporters today that the Trump administration would love to have a trade deal with India, but it is too early to talk about it yet.

"The Canadian dairy market will now be filled by surplus milk", from the U.S., David Wiens, vice-president of the Dairy Farmers of Canada, told Bloomberg.

Little more than 18 months later, that is what has happened - but only thanks to steadfast negotiating on the Canadian side that has largely spared this country a host of harsher, even catastrophic, provisions that the Trump administration had tried to bully Canada into accepting.

Canadian dairy farmers are panning the renegotiated trade pact between Canada, the US and Mexico, saying the deal will undercut the industry by limiting exports and opening up the market to more American products.

Canada gave up some access to its dairy, egg and poultry industries but will keep its agricultural supply management system and avoid punishing auto tariffs under the new deal.

U.S. -Canada talks bogged down earlier this month, and most trade analysts expected the September 30 deadline to come and go without Canada being reinstated.

A senior Canadian government official says the US and Canada have reached the basis of a free trade deal. The new agreement, he said, will support many hundreds of thousands of American jobs. The so-called U.S. -Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA, still needs to be approved by Congress and the legislatures of Canada and Mexico before it's implemented.

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The president has admitted there was "a lot of tension" but said it didn't affect negotiations.

In Canada, farmers protested the increase in quotas on USA dairy products including milk, yogurt, milk powder and formula.

Representatives of Mexican president-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador called a news conference for Monday to discuss details of the deal. It would have been an enormous political blow to the Trudeau government and - much more important - a real danger to a Canadian economy that for better or worse has been shaped for decades around easy access to the world's biggest and most dynamic market. 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 US protections. Given Canada's long-standing concerns about USA anti-dumping cases in the lumber industry, keeping the dispute settlement process intact was a priority for Ottawa.

"The agreement will govern almost $1.2 trillion in trade, which makes it the biggest trade deal in United States history", Trump said.

Canada's ambassador to Washington says the US and Canada have made a lot of progress in free trade talks but there is no deal.

The quota would allow for significant growth in tariff-free automotive exports from Canada above current production levels of about 2 million units, safeguarding Canadian plants. "Versus a very unpredictable and protectionist USA administration, I think Canada did as well as it could". US drug companies can fend off generic competition for a few more years.

"For those babies out there who keep talking about tariffs", this deal would not have happened without tariffs, Trump told reporters during a almost 80-minute event in the White House Rose Garden.

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