US and Canada reach new trade deal to replace NAFTA

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WASHINGTON: The US and Canada have reached a new trade deal, along with Mexico, to replace the current North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta).
The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) is said to involve more US access to Canada’s dairy market and a cap on its car exports to the US.
However, the joint US-Canada statement did not give details of the agreement.
US President Donald Trump has long sought to change Nafta, which governed more than $1tn (£767bn) in trade. Until recently it looked as if Canada could be excluded from a final agreement.
“Today, Canada and the United States reached an agreement, alongside Mexico, on a new, modernized trade agreement for the 21st Century: the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement,” US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said in a joint statement.
The agreement “will give our workers, farmers, ranchers and businesses a high-standard trade agreement that will result in freer markets, fairer trade and robust economic growth in our region”.
It comes as the US has fought a trade war on several fronts this year, including placing tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Mexico and Canada.
While the exact details of the agreement have not been released, the new accord is expected to contain key provisions on Canada’s dairy industry and car exports to the US.
US farmers will have access to about 3.5% of Canada’s dairy market, Reuters reported, citing sources. Canada is also reported to have secured some protections for its automobile industry against potential US tariffs. US tariffs on steel and aluminium will remain for now, the sources said.
This deal has been 13 months in the making – and there were times when it seemed like the finish line might never be reached.
More than once US President Donald Trump threatened to tear up Nafta, or leave Canada out in the cold after coming to a bilateral agreement with Mexico in August.
The relationship between the American and Canadian leaders seemed to grow rocky as the talks dragged on.
So having an agreement will come as a relief to the many industries in both the US and Canada that depend on Nafta and that have been living with uncertainty since the talks began.
Still, while Mr Trudeau has maintained he would not agree to a deal that was not in Canada’s best interests, they will be waiting to get a clear picture of what concessions were made in the final hours to secure the agreement.

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