Canada, U.S., Mexico finalize trade agreement, sources confirm

01 October, 2018, 11:40 | Author: Kathy Ellis
  • Clock ticks down on potential Sunday NAFTA deadline

The U.S. and Canada were under pressure to reach a deal by midnight Sunday, when the U.S. must make public the full text of the agreement with Mexico.

Mexico agreed to a revamped NAFTA last month, triggering weeks of hectic bargaining with the U.S.to try to bring Canada into the agreement, as President Donald Trump and other administration officials threatened to go it alone with Mexico if Canada did not make "concessions".

Canada had agreed to provide USA dairy farmers access to about 3.5 percent of its approximately $16 billion annual domestic dairy market, the sources said, adding that the Canadian government is prepared to offer compensation to dairy farmers hurt by the deal.

Mexico agreed to remove NAFTA's Chapter 19, a dispute resolution mechanism for anti-dumping matters, which put Canada in a hard position.

The Trump administration had threatened to proceed with a Mexico-only trade pact as USA talks with Canada foundered.

After weeks of hunkering down in Washington, Freeland and David MacNaughton, Canada's ambassador to the USA, had spent the day in Ottawa taking part in an aggressive, long-distance, last-minute push to get Canada into the trilateral free trade deal ahead of a key congressional deadline.

Because the old agreement was cemented by Congress, and was not a treaty, Mr. Trump would still have to get Congress on board and, under USA law, Mr. Trump will have to made the agreement public two months before he can sign it.

But the deal failed to resolve USA tariffs on Canada's steel and aluminium exports.

The Trump administration set Sunday as a deadline for Canada to strike a deal.

"Everybody's negotiating in good faith right now as we speak".

Canadian government officials and outside stakeholders from industry and labour groups who were consulted throughout a weekend of intense talks said negotiators had made "progress" Sunday on key points that had been in dispute.

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"The door has been closed on the region's trade fragmentation", he said, adding the deal "will give certainty and stability to Mexico's trade with its North American partners".

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

Canada and Mexico are the United States' two biggest export markets.

The dairy issue was a longtime target for Trump, who insisted that the high protective barriers for United States dairy farmers trying to export to Canada were unfair.

The timeline of the notification period has provided urgency to spearhead a NAFTA deal through Congress and onto the desk of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto before President-Elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador takes office in December.

Mexico's chief NAFTA negotiator, Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo, tweeted that he had instructed his deputy, Juan Carlos Baker, to deliver the text of the new agreement to the Mexican Senate on Sunday night.

Earlier Sunday, one of Trump's senior trade advisers, Peter Navarro, told Fox News that Canada's positions on dairy sector regulations and on global dispute resolution remained among "several sticking points", but suggested that disagreements over digital intellectual property and certain pharmaceutical protections had been largely resolved. And only vehicles that failed to meet the rules of origin for auto parts agreed to by the US and Mexico would even potentially be subject to the proposed auto tariffs.

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

But amid last-minute efforts to strike a deal before a US -imposed Sunday deadline, with an agreement seemingly within reach, the Prime Minister looked to a select group for counsel, tapping the banks' leaders to glean quick insight from a cross-section of their clients in key industries.

Canada, the US' second largest trade partner, was excluded from a revamped NAFTA deal separately negotiated between Mexico and the USA in August after nearly a year of negotiations.

The deal reportedly grants USA farmers access to the heavily protected dairy market.

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