Trump signs NAFTA replacement deal ahead of the G20 summit

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Trump spent more than a year pushing the leaders of Canada and Mexico into agreeing to a rewrite of North American trade rules.

The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) opens 3.6 per cent of Canada's dairy market to tariff-free imports and limits Canada's global dairy exports of skim-milk powder, baby formula and milk-protein concentrates.

U.S. President Donald Trump, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto signed a trade agreement to replace NAFTA on Friday-a deal some lawmakers and advocacy groups say is still fundamentally flawed as it stomps on the rights of workers and the environment and empowers "the corporate one percent at the expense of the rest of us".

"The autoworkers are a tremendous beneficiary", said Trump, adding that the USMCA will help stop automotive jobs from going overseas, and he predicted many such jobs will return to the United States. We've taken a lot of barbs and a little abuse, and we got there.

The side letters left unchanged the overall quota of autos (2.6 million units annually for each country) and auto parts (US$108-billion for Mexico and $32.4-billion annually for Canada) that the countries will be allowed to send to the United States without paying a potential 25-per-cent tariff.

It's the nomenclature the Canadian government will apparently be using in discussing the deal, it's an actual, pronounceable acronym - two syllables instead of five - and, again, a generally accepted name hasn't been settled on by all three countries as NAFTA was after the tripartite agreement a quarter-century ago. Both chambers would need to sign off on the agreement before it could make its way to Trump's desk to be signed into USA law.

That could prove to be an overly optimistic assessment.

The opposition Democrats take control of the House in January. But Ottawa, Mexico City and Washington have now agreed to sweeping changes to manufacturing and labor requirements that USA officials say should boost wages and discourage moving production offshore.

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The text of the USMCA must still be reviewed and approved by each country's congress before it can be made into law.

On his final day as Mexico's president before Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is sworn in on Saturday, Pena Nieto said the trade agreement includes provisions for e-commerce and information technology.

Trump, Trudeau and Nieto failed to mention the LGBT provisions during the event in which they signed the agreement.

The Canadian prime minister agreed that it will "protect jobs, strengthen the middle class and create new opportunities for businesses".

Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi - who is seeking to become House speaker in the new year - quipped, "The trade agreement formerly known as Prince - no, I mean, formerly known as NAFTA, is a work in progress".

The concession from Ottawa removed a major sticking point that Trump said was a deal breaker. The abrupt announcement came not long after his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, admitted lying to Congress to cover up that he was negotiating a real estate deal in Moscow on Trump's behalf during the Republican presidential primary in 2016. Trudeau, however, was much more blunt, calling the GM job losses a "heavy blow".

"Not only have they conceded market access but they have also gone along with the U.S.to ensure we can not be competitive on any world markets where the U.S.is present", said David Wiens, vice-president of Dairy Farmers of Canada.

Said Trump: "The USMCA is the largest, most significant, modern and balanced trade agreement in history. The USMCA will be fantastic for all!" he said. "We also encourage the administration to remove the steel and aluminum tariffs from Canada and Mexico now that the agreement is signed". This is estimated to double USA exports of grain to Canada.

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