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US, Canada hold last-minute NAFTA talks as deadline looms

01 October, 2018, 11:40 | Author: Kristi Dunn
  • US President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has hurt Mexicans, Americans, Canadians, Quebecers, and Indigenous peoples.

Canada agreed to join the revised trade deal that the U.S. and Mexico had signed last month - just hours before a midnight deadline, that allows Mexico's president Enrique Peña Nieto to sign the accord on his last day in office, two people familiar with the talks told The Washington Post. Just before Labor Day, Trump sent a notice to Congress of his intention to sign a new trade pact exclusively with Mexico.

Negotiators for the USA and Canada were able to overcome major sticking points between the two countries, including Canada's protection of its dairy market and a system for settling trade disputes.

In exchange, U.S. negotiators have agreed to retain Chapter 19, the dispute resolution mechanism of NAFTA, and exemptions for Canadian creative industries. "It's a great win for the president and a validation of his strategy in the area of global trade", said one senior US official.

Canada's ambassador to Washington, David MacNaughton, also said Sunday evening that the two countries had made a lot of progress, but there was no deal yet as there were a couple of tough issues left to resolve.

"Specifically, we will seek clarity on how the agreement addresses the existing tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminium, as well as how it will ensure that tariffs and quotas upon Canada's auto sector exports will be avoided", Beatty said.

Reuters reported Sunday that Lighthizer and White House adviser Jared Kushner planned to brief Trump on Sunday.

The United States is poised to relent on its demands to eliminate an independent tariff dispute settlement system that Canada has said is a red line in negotiations, according to a person consulted on the negotiations.

The deal will preserve a trade dispute settlement mechanism that Canada fought hard to maintain to protect its lumber industry and other sectors from US anti-dumping tariffs. It will also be called the "United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement", or USMCA.

And this limits the ability of USA producers to raise exports to Canada above the quota levels.

U.S. Adds Maduro’s Wife to Sanctions List
Trump's remarks likely don't indicate a military intervention anytime soon, Farnsworth said. President Trump had earlier said he was willing to meet Mr Maduro.

And with that, he said he would talk to reporters Monday.

Meantime, congratulations were being offered among key stakeholders who have been on the edge of their seats to see if Canada and the United States would find common ground.

Current Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto leaves office November 30 and therefore, the clock was ticking to get the deal done.

United States and Canadian trade negotiators hammered out the finer details of a NAFTA rework over the weekend, ahead of the US' self-imposed deadline of midnight Sunday (04:00 GMT).

Under U.S. trade law, the administration was required to publish the text by the end of September.

"There's just a lot going on, and not a lot of time to do it in....at the end of the day, USA negotiators are agreeing, but it still has to be the president that signs off, and who knows where he is on things".

Trump blames NAFTA for the loss of American manufacturing jobs and wants major changes to the pact, which underpins $1.2 trillion in annual trade.

The deal must clear a series of procedural hurdles to get to Congress for a vote, which is unlikely to come before 2019.

The agreement reached Sunday gives United States farmers greater access to the Canadian dairy market.

Canada, the United States' No. 2 trading partner, was left out when the US and Mexico reached an agreement last month to revamp the North American Free Trade Agreement.

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