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NAFTA is Out, a New Trade Deal With Mexico is Officially Here

28 August, 2018, 19:53 | Author: Lawrence Cooper
  • 4 takeaways from the U.S.-Mexico trade deal

President Trump won a major victory on trade on Monday, supplanting the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and replacing it with something far more beneficial.

President Donald Trump, right, arrives in the Oval Office for a telephone call with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto on August 27, 2018. During a last-minute meeting at the Oval Office, President Trump spoke to Peña Nieto by phone.

Canada, which sat out the last leg of discussions while the United States and Mexico ironed out their bilateral differences, is now pressured to agree to the new terms on auto trade and other issues to remain part of the three-nation pact. Trump and his Mexican counterpart were not talking face-to-face as might be expected for a momentous trade announcement, but rather by speakerphone, which led to a briefly comical moment when Trump couldn't get him on the line at first. "It's a really good deal for both countries", Trump said.

Canada's foreign minister, Chrystia Freeland, spent most of her time on visits to the USA lobbying governors and congressmen rather than talking seriously to our trade negotiators. His sentiments were echoed by Vice President Mike Pence who said "The U.S. -Mexico Trade Agreement is a win for American ranchers, manufacturers and auto workers".

Among the potential losers from a revised NAFTA are U.S. farmers, who have come to rely on exports to Mexico and Canada, and USA automakers, which have built complicated supply chains that depend on the easy movement of goods across borders.

"It's a big day for trade", said Trump.

Rep. Ron Estes, a Republican seeking re-election in the 4th District, called the prospects of a new deal "great news" that signals a breakthrough in negotiations.

If auto content and wage agreements go forward with Canada on board as well, it could stem the flow of auto sector jobs to lower wage jurisdictions, Unifor president Jerry Dias said. "It could end in one day and we take in a lot of money the following day". Trump said "we'll see" if Canada can be part of the new deal.

President Trump complained again on Monday about stiff Canadian tariffs on dairy products.

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"This wasn't created to put pressure on anybody", a senior administration official said, before later adding that the USA planned to submit its NAFTA renegotiation plans to Congress by the end of the week with or without Canada's agreement.

A senior administration official told reporters that negotiations with Canada would start Monday afternoon.

Mexico agreed to eliminate dispute settlement panels for certain anti-dumping cases, a move that could complicate talks with Canada, which had insisted on the panels.

The Canadian team could be more amenable to the talks now that the United States has backed away from a controversial and strenuously-opposed provision to require the three nations to renegotiate NAFTA after five years.

Mr. Trump has called the 1994 three-way NAFTA the "worst trade deal ever" and made ending it a top campaign promise in 2016.

The move, sought by the United States, puts Canada in a hard position because Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had insisted on maintaining Chapter 19 as a way to fight USA duties on softwood lumber, paper and other products that it views as unfair.

Adam Austen, a spokesman for Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, said: "Canada is encouraged by the continued optimism shown by our negotiating partners".

Added to this, the threshold for the amount of manufacturing that must be performed by auto workers earning at least $16 (€13) per hour would be hiked from 40 percent to 45 percent.

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