WHITE HOUSE — After intense last-minute discussions ahead of a self-imposed midnight deadline, U.S. and Canadian officials announced late Sunday they reached a trade deal, allowing a modified three-way pact with Mexico to replace the nearly quarter-century old North American Free Trade Agreement.
The U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) – underpinning $1.2 trillion in annual trade — is expected to be signed in 60 days by President Donald Trump and his Canadian and Mexican counterparts.
“We think this is a fantastic agreement for the United States,” a senior administration official told reporters on a hastily convened briefing call, adding that it is “a great win for the president.”
Trump had made criticism of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) a centerpiece of his successful 2016 election campaign.
“The worst trade deal maybe ever signed anywhere, but certainly ever signed in this country,” Trump had termed NAFTA, blaming it for the loss of American manufacturing jobs since it went into effect in 1994.
The U.S. Congress is likely to act on USMCA next year. Its fate in the hands of American lawmakers remains far from certain, especially if the Democrats would take back control of the House of Representatives in the November midterm elections.
“USMCA 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,” said U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland in a joint statement. “It will strengthen the middle class, and create good, well-paying jobs and new opportunities for the nearly half billion people who call North America home.”