Mexico, Canada and USA sign new version of NAFTA agreement

BUENOS AIRES – Leaders of Mexico, Canada and the United States signed a renewed trade pact in North America on Friday after a tough diplomatic and technical struggle to guarantee the survival of one of the world’s largest free trade zones.

At a ceremony in Buenos Aires, where the presidents agreed to participate in the G-20 summit, U.S. President Donald Trump, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto signed their signature in the new agreement.

“This has been a battle,” Trump acknowledged in words to the press before the signing. “It has been long and hard (…) but we did it”.

The new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) replaces the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that has been in effect for 24 years. The Congresses of the three countries have yet to approve the pact to become effective.

With repeated threats to break NAFTA, Trump had forced Canada and Mexico to renegotiate the pact because he said he encouraged US companies to move low-wage jobs to Mexico. He has also criticized Canadian protection of its dairy market and accused Canada of harming the U.S. farmers.

Trudeau said the agreement is a big step for his country’s economy, which eliminates the risks of uncertainty, but reminded Trump that they must continue working to remove tariffs on steel and aluminum.

On his last day as president, Peña Nieto said that with the agreement the three countries win individually and the North American region will prosper.

The American president said that the agreement will allow to increase the agricultural exports of his country and bring jobs to the United States, part of Trump’s campaign promises.

The three leaders thanked the negotiators who had been in talks for a year and a half: the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada, Chrystia Freeland, the U.S. Trade Representative, Robert Lighthizer and the Mexican Secretary of Economy, Ildefonso Guajardo.–MercoPress