U.S. President Donald Trump is set to sign a successor to the North American Free Trade Agreement that will make modest revisions to a deal he once called a “disaster,” easing uncertainty for companies reliant on tariff-free commerce.
U.S. and Canadian negotiators worked around the clock this weekend to secure an agreement just before a Sunday midnight deadline, allowing leaders from those nations and Mexico to sign the accord by late November. The 24-year-old Nafta will now be superseded by the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA, covering a region that trades more than $1 trillion annually.
President Trump celebrated the new trade deal with Canada and Mexico, saying he kept his promise to fix America’s bad trade agreements with the rest of the world.
“The agreement will govern nearly $1.2 trillion in trade which makes it the biggest trade deal in U.S. history,” Mr. Trump said at a Rose Garden press conference.
The new U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement replaces the 24-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement that Mr. Trump vowed to either replace or terminate.
“NAFTA was perhaps the worst trade deal ever made,” he said at the press conference.
He said the new deal protected American farmers, U.S. retailers doing business in Canada and Mexico, and reversed the mass exodus of U.S. manufacturing jobs.
He commended Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for reaching an accord that benefited all three countries.
Mr. Trump clashed in recent months with Mr. Trudeau, but he said the hostility did not affect the trade negotiations because they were both “professionals.”
“We have negotiated this new agreement based on fairness and reciprocity,” said Mr. Trump, adding that “reciprocity” was the most important world in trade deals.
He often complains that reciprocity was the key element missing from deals such as NAFTA.
The agreement with Mexico and Canada follows a series of aggressive trade moves. The administration scrapped the 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership, brokered a new deal with South Korea and forced new trade talks with Japan and the European Union.
The U.S. is also locked in a trade war with China, America’s largest trading partner, over Beijing’s unfair practices and theft of intellectual property.
“It’s a privilege for them to do business with us. And I’m not talking about Mexico and Canada, I’m talking about everybody,” said Mr. Trump. “It’s a privilege for them to come in and attack the piggy bank.”
Mr. Trump threatened to hit autos from Canada with high tariffs if they didn’t join the trade deal the U.S. reached with Mexico in August.
“Without tariffs, we wouldn’t be talking about a deal,” said Mr. Trump.
He said critics of tariffs were “babies,” saying that included Congress members.
Mr. Trump said there shouldn’t be difficulty getting Congress’ approval but “there’s always trouble with Congress.”
“Actually we had some Democrats say that is amazing you got all that [in the deal],” he said. “But by tomorrow I suspect that will change. But that’s OK because people know how good it is.”
James E Windsor, Overpasses News Desk
October 1st, 2018