In a major political win at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, President Trump joined Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto on Friday to sign a new trade agreement replacing NAFTA.
Trudeau made a personal plea to Trump during the ceremony to get rid of the tariffs, saying the recent closures of auto plants by General Motors in the United States and Canada made it more important.
Trudeau addressed Trump directly about the tariffs, telling the president the two countries needed to work together "to remove the tariffs on steel and aluminum between our countries".
Trudeau - with whom Trump has had a rocky relationship - spoke next and conspicuously avoided calling the new agreement by its name, "USMCA", a name that Trump came up with.
Legislators from the three countries must still approve the pact, officially known as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), before it goes into effect and replaces NAFTA. Patrick Toomey, R-Pa., who backs expanded trade, says he will oppose the deal unless changes are made to investor protection provisions. Sen.
The three nations had a bitter, year-long fight over the trade pact before reaching an 11th-hour deal in October, right as the deadline hit.
'The new agreement will assure a new prosperity, ' he added.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the agreement will help maintain the stability of Canada's economy.
"The new agreement secures strong outcomes for farmers, ranchers, businesses, and workers across North America, including in areas such as auto manufacturing and intellectual property".
There had been speculation that he would skip the signing ceremony due to his feelings on the subject.
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A "North America free trade agreement" was often referred to in coverage in both Canada and the US well ahead of the October 1992 ceremony in San Antonio, Texas, in which Mexico signed on. "It's great for all our countries".
The Prime Minister's Office confirmed the signing late Thursday after a day of some uncertainty, with Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland saying there were still details to be finalized before the three countries could formally sign the "massive" deal.
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.
The new agreement doesn't lift the tariffs on steel and aluminum, with both the Mexican and Canadian governments stating their displeasure that the issue has not yet been solved.
Legislative approval is the next step in the process, but could prove to be a hard task in the United States, especially now that Democrats - instead of Trump's Republicans - will control the House of Representatives come January.
All three leaders are in Argentina to attend the G20 summit.
However, the new deal does not resolve the punishing steel and aluminum tariffs imposed worldwide earlier this year, and on Mexico and Canada since May. Canadian officials resolutely rejected Trump's demand to scrap provisions to resolve disagreements through worldwide arbitration, something Ottawa has successfully used to challenge USA tariffs.
The USMCA will also need to be ratified by the legislatures of Canada and Mexico.
For the Sierra Club, a USA environmentalist group, the "hastily sealed" deal will promote Trump's "polluting legacy for years after he leaves office (via) special handouts to corporate polluters like Chevron and ExxonMobil".
For the auto sector, USMCA increases the regional content of tariff-free vehicles and requires that 40 per cent of a car be made by workers earning at least US$16 an hour, a shift that favours USA and Canadian assembly plants over low-wage Mexican assembly lines.