Trump hails updated US-Canada-Mexico free trade pact

By Michael Hernandez

WASHINGTON (AA) – U.S. President Donald Trump praised Monday a revised $1.2 trillion trilateral trade deal with Canada and Mexico he said would safeguard American jobs and lead to economic growth if Congress signs off on it.

Trump said the agreement, which he called the "USMCA," is based on "fairness and reciprocity" for all three countries, claiming "it will transform North America back into a manufacturing powerhouse."

"This landmark agreement will send cash and jobs pouring into the United States and into North American. Good for Canada, good for Mexico," he said during a news conference at the White House. "Instead of jobs leaving for overseas, they will be returning back home."

Trump said the revised free trade agreement is "the most important trade deal we've ever made," arguing that "without tariffs we wouldn't be talking about a deal."

"Without tariffs, we wouldn't be standing here," Trump said as his top trade officials looked on in the Rose Garden.

The agreement was finalized late on Sunday when Canada announced just hours before a U.S.-imposed midnight deadline that it would join the deal originally brokered between Washington and Mexico City.

Trump said he plans on signing the agreement in late November before it is sent to Congress for ratification.

If successfully implemented it will replace the 24-year-old North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

But the president acknowledged that the agreement's path in Congress is uncertain due to possible opposition from Democrats, saying "anything you submit to Congress is trouble, no matter what."

"They'll say, 'Well, you know, Trump likes it, therefore we're not going to approve it because that would be good for the Republicans, so therefore we can't approve it,'" Trump said.

Congress would have to craft legislation on the bill's implementation and pass it through the Senate, which could be complicated if the Democrats earn a larger share of seats in this fall's midterm elections.