Canada inks new trade deal with US, Mexico

By Barry Ellsworth

TRENTON, Canada (AA) – More details of a new trade agreement between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico will be released Monday after the three countries reached an 11th hour deal.

The new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement — coined USMCA — was reached late Sunday, just before the midnight deadline for a deal set by U.S. President Donald Trump.

It caps 14 months of at-times tension-filled negotiating. Mexico had already agreed to a deal with the U.S.

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer released a statement late Sunday in Washington announcing the deal that will replace the North American Free Trade Agreement.

”USMCA will give our workers, farmers, ranchers, and businesses a high-standard trade agreement that will result in freer markets, fairer trade and robust economic growth in our region,” the statement said. “It will strengthen the middle class, and create good, well-paying jobs and new opportunities for the nearly half billion people who call North America home.”

In Ottawa, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Sunday it was “a good day for Canada” but did not elaborate, saying he would have more details Monday.

But a Trump administration spokesperson gave reporters a background briefing and some specifics of the deal, and said USMCA will benefit all three countries.

“This is a big win for the U.S., Mexico and Canada and it fulfills one of the president’s most important campaign promises,” the spokesperson said. “We think this is a fantastic agreement.”

The United States agreed to include Chapter 19, a dispute resolution mechanism the U.S. had balked at during negotiations. But Canada had to concede a more open market for American dairy products, a previous sticking point for Canada.

In case Trump decided to go ahead with his oft-threatened tariffs on vehicles exported to the U.S., Canada was granted an exemption.

But the USMCA does not address U.S. aluminum and steel tariffs imposed on other countries, including Canada and Mexico.

“There isn’t any agreement on that at this point,” a Trump official said.

The deal is for 16 years with a provision to a “joint review” after six years.