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G20 Summit: Trump signs USMCA, NAFTA update with Mexico, Canada

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neito trump trudeau nafta usmca
President
Donald Trump, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, right, and
Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Neto, left, participate in the
USMCA signing ceremony

Pablo Martinez
Monsivais/AP Images


  • US President Donald Trump, Canadian Prime Minister Justin
    Trudeau, and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto signed the
    US-Mexico-Canada Agreement or USMCA on Friday.
  • The deal is an update to the two-decade old North
    American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
  • The USMCA is the culmination of nearly two years of
    negotiating among the three countries.
  • The deal mostly keeps NAFTA intact but contains key
    tweaks to the treatment of cars, crops, and labor
    regulations.
  • The USMCA must still pass Congress, which is far from a
    done deal.
  • Both Democrats and Republicans have expressed some
    reservations about the trade deal.

The leaders of Mexico, Canada, and the US came together Friday in
Buenos Aires, Argentina, to officially sign their updated free
trade agreement, known as the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or
USMCA.

US President Donald Trump, Canadian Prime Minister Justin
Trudeau, and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto officially
signed the USMCA as part the G20 summit.

The signing came just days before Pena Nieto is set to leave
office, handing off the presidency to Andrés Manuel López
Obrador. It also caps nearly two years of uncertainty over the
update to the
North American Free Trade Agreement
(NAFTA).

“We worked hard on this agreement. It’s been long and hard,”
Trump said. “We’ve taken a lot of barbs and a little abuse and we
got there. It’s great for all of our countries.”

But while the ceremonial pomp and circumstance is out of the way,
the agreement still has a long way to go before it goes into full
effect. The deal still has to be approved by each country’s
legislature — and in the US, there are still
questions about whether the USMCA
can pass Congress.

A long road for some NAFTA tweaks

The USMCA process kicked off just a few days after Trump took
office in 2017, when he signed an executive order. Formal
negotiations took months to begin, finally starting in 2018 after
Trump was able to get key trade negotiators confirmed.

The negotiations were at times tense, with disagreements over
various aspects of the deal and
personality clashes
among the countries’ top negotiators.


trump trudeau
President
Donald Trump talks with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
during the Women’s Entrepreneurship Finance event at the G20
Summit in Hamburg, Germany, Saturday, July 8,
2017.

Evan
Vucci/AP


The pressure of Pena Nieto’s departure from office
pushed the US and Mexico
to agree to
a bilateral deal in August
to ensure the signing happened
before Obrador took office. A
deal between the US and Canada
followed at the tail end of
September, but not before a series of threats from Trump and

tense moments
when it seemed the
trilateral deal might fall through
.

Read more

:

The US, Canada, and Mexico’s new trade pact looks a lot like
NAFTA. Here are the key differences between them »

Ultimately, the USMCA retained a substantial amount of NAFTA’s
framework, with notable tweaks on the treatment of automobiles,
agricultural products, and labor protections.

Still a long way to go

In the US, the USMCA must be reviewed and approved by Congress
before going into effect.

Since Trump negotiated the deal under Trade Promotion Authority
(TPA), the agreement only needs a majority vote in each chamber
of Congress and can’t be filibustered in the Senate.

But passage could be complicated by a few factors — first, the
incoming Democratic majority in the House. Congress must write
implementation legislation to pass any trade deal, essentially
conforming US law to the deal. There is wide latitude for the
Democrats to try to make adjustments to the USMCA to enforce
their own goals, such as labor regulations and environmental
protections.


Trump Nieto Mexico
Donald
Trump and Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto arrive for a
press conference at the Los Pinos residence in Mexico
City.

Reuters/Henry
Romero


Thankfully, the Congress has a role in crafting
‘implementing legislation’ to make sure the deal benefits and
protects middle-class families and working people, and isn’t
simply a rebranding of the same old policies that hurt our
economy and workers for years,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck
Schumer said.


Read more:

Here’s a look at exactly how the USMCA will weave through
Congress»

Additionally, Republicans who are generally pro-free trade have
not been particularly enthusiastic about the deal.

Outgoing House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin
Brady released a statement following the signing that hedged his
support for the deal, saying there needed to be careful
examination of the deal to ensure that US goods still kept access
to the North American markets.

Additionally, a group of 40 Republican House members raised
concerns about the
USMCA’s language protecting LGBTQ workers
. The group argues
that the trade deal will ultimately force the US to adapt
workplace protections for transgender individuals.

“A trade agreement is no place for the adoption of social
policy,”
the group said in a letter
to Trump sent November 18.

But Trump seemed confident at the ceremony in Argentina and
predicted an easy road through Congress.

It’s been so well reviewed I don’t
expect to have very much of a problem,” he said.

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