U.S., Canada reportedly conclude new NAFTA deal

Anna Jefferson
October 1, 2018

Trade negotiators for the USA and Canada on Sunday evening put the finishing touches on a deal to reshape the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement, known as NAFTA, sealing the largest trade-deal rewrite of President Donald Trump's tenure.

In a joint statement, issued by Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), the parties revealed the name of the upgraded trade deal - the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement or USMCA.

The US Congress is required go through a 60-day review of the draft agreement, which could potentially allow for NAFTA signing around December 1.

Mexico's president-elect, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, previously said he would insist that all three countries be part of NAFTA and that Washington had made a new counter-proposal to Ottawa.

Negotiators from the three countries began talks about updating NAFTA more than a year ago.

Trade officials for the three countries have been at it for more than a year.

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The deal involves improved access to Canada's dairy market for US farmers, stronger intellectual property provisions, and tighter rules of origin for auto production, according to two senior Trump administration officials who spoke to reporters on a briefing call on condition of anonymity.

Under U.S. trade law, an agreement must be published for 60 days before it can be signed by leaders of any of the participant countries, putting negotiators on the clock to reach a deal that can be signed by November 30.

"Everybody's negotiating in good faith right now as we speak and the deadline is midnight tonight to get the text in to Congress in order to make sure this goes forward", said Navarro.

But the deal failed to resolve United States tariffs on Canada's steel and aluminium exports.

But concessions on dairy would be politically hard for Trudeau´s government, a matter complicated yet further by elections being held Monday in the key dairy producing province of Quebec.

So much American trade depends on the 1994 agreement that USA markets have been jittery about a possible collapse of negotiations - and because Mr. Trump made campaign promises to get rid of the agreement.

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The deal represents a win for Trump, who has derided Nafta for years and threatened to pull the United States from the pact if it was not rewritten in Washington's favour. But some experts questioned whether the changes to NAFTA were worth the strain put on relations with Canada by Trump's threats and brinkmanship during the negotiations.

Canada agreed to provide US dairy farmers access to about 3.5 percent of its approximately $16 billion annual domestic dairy market, Canadian sources said, adding that the Canadian government is prepared to offer compensation to dairy farmers hurt by the deal.

Earlier in the evening, President Donald Trump was briefed on the almost finalized negotiations by U.S. Ambassador Robert Lighthizer and White House adviser Jared Kushner. Canada also wanted to keep a NAFTA dispute-resolution process that the United States wanted to jettison.

Though, one of the senior USA administration officials who briefed reporters on background Sunday night described Canada's concessions on dairy as "a big win" for American farmers.

USA farmers said those schedules had effectively pushed them out of the Canadian dairy market.

"Lots of progress but we're not there yet", MacNaughton told reporters in Ottawa, where the Canadian team is gathered.

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The deal also requires greater use of American and Mexican steel, aluminum, glass, and plastics. It was unclear, however, whether Trump had authority from Congress to pursue a revamped NAFTA with only Mexico, and some lawmakers said they wouldn't go along with a deal that left out Canada. Trudeau said he would have more to say Monday.

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