Canadian PM Defends New Trade Deal with US, Mexico

CANADA - While Canada's Liberal government said the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) agreement is good for Canada, the main opposition party questioned whether it is an improvement.
calendar icon 4 October 2018
clock icon 3 minute read

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau defended the USMCA, saying it will create good, well-paying, middle-class jobs, strengthen economic ties and expand Canada's trade in North America.

"The agreement-in-principle we reached today is good for Canada, good for Canadian businesses, and most importantly, good for Canadian workers and their families," PM Trudeau said in a statement on Monday. "When this improved agreement is implemented, North American trade will be preserved and modernized for the 21st century – just as we set out to do."

Following more than a year of negotiations, the three countries have reached agreement in key areas, including rules of origin for automotive manufacturing, agriculture, labour, intellectual property rights, culture and dispute-settlement.

"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," Canada Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in a joint statement released late Sunday.

According to the Liberals' statement, the resulting agreement offers crucial predictability and stability for Canadian businesses, investors, traders, workers and innovators. Throughout the negotiations, Canada's approach has been constructive.

Furthermore, Canada has ensured that any US Section 232 tariffs will not impact Canadian automobile and auto-parts exports. Canada has successfully preserved key elements of the original North American Free Trade Agreement while building on it to expand opportunity and improve protections for workers across North America.

However, the opposition Conservative Party's leader Andrew Scheer questioned how much Canada gave up in the new USMCA.

"While we await final details, it appears Canada has failed to achieve progress on key issues, while giving ground to the US. Tariffs on steel and aluminum remain," Mr Scheer said in a statement on Monday.

Another opposition leader, Jagmeet Singh, of the Canada New Democratic Party, joined by trade critics Karine Trudel and Tracey Ramsey, argued that Canada seems to have gotten a new but worse deal.

"The Liberals began negotiations promising to defend dairy, poultry and egg farmers and to bring in new progressive measures such as a gender chapter, a chapter on the rights of Indigenous peoples and stronger environmental protections.

"Instead, none of those new chapters are included, and the Liberals have made major concessions to the Trump administration that will hurt dairy, poultry and egg farmers and producers, restrict Canadians' access to locally produced food and put food safety at risk," Mr Singh said to media.

According to CBC news, former prime minister Brian Mulroney, however, deemed that the agreement is a highly significant achievement for Canada that benefits all three countries, as it should.

"I said at the beginning that there is no Conservative or Liberal way to negotiate a free-trade agreement — there is only a Canadian way.

"This has been the government's approach as well, and I commend all — from the prime minister down — who contributed to writing this vital new chapter in the ongoing drive for greater Canadian strength and prosperity," he said.

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