In a major political win at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, President Trump joined Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto on Friday to sign a new trade agreement replacing NAFTA.
“This has been a battle, and battles sometimes make great friendships,” Trump said at the start of the signing ceremony.
Saying that all three countries will benefit from the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, Trump said “it is probably the largest trade deal ever made.”
The USMCA replaces NAFTA, which in 1994 had created a free trade zone among the three countries.
Trudeau said the deal “lifts the risk of serious economic uncertainty that lingers throughout a trade renegotiation process — uncertainty that would have only gotten worse and more damaging if we had not reached a new NAFTA.”
The deal emerged in early October, months after Trump hit Mexico and Canada with tariffs on their steel and aluminum products — a move that set off retaliatory tariffs and negotiations to create a new trade pact.
The USMCA — which overhauls the rules covering more than $1.2 trillion in regional commerce — faces major hurdles next year in Congress, where Democrats will control the House and may be reluctant to help Trump fulfill a 2016 campaign promise.
The deal also must be ratified by lawmakers in all three countries.
And even as Trump, Trudeau and Peña Nieto — on his final day in office — signed the accord on the sidelines of the summit, officials from the three countries continued to haggle over terms for lifting US tariffs, according to the Washington Post.
Mexican and Canadian officials had strongly objected to the tariffs when Trump imposed them June 1. Administration officials have said publicly that the tariffs would be lifted when a new deal was reached to replace NAFTA.