Trump signs USMCA trade deal with Mexico, Canada
President Trump on Wednesday signed the new North American trade deal — a key victory for his administration — in a ceremony at the White House, surrounded by business leaders, lawmakers and officials from Mexico and Canada.
“Today, we are finally ending the NAFTA nightmare and signing into law the brand new US-Mexico-Canada Agreement,” the president said outside the White House. “The USMCA is the largest, fairest, most balanced and modern trade agreement ever achieved.”
“For the first time in American history, we have replaced a disastrous trade deal that rewarded outsourcing with a truly fair and reciprocal trade deal that will keep jobs, wealth and growth right here in America,” he continued.
Replacing the President Clinton-era NAFTA was a critical part of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and he often railed about it on the stump, calling it “the worst trade deal ever” and saying it sucked manufacturing jobs and factories from the US.
He took a victory lap at the signing ceremony.
“This is something we really put our heart into. It’s probably the number one reason that I decided to lead this crazy life that I’m leading right now, as opposed to that beautiful, simple life of luxury that I lead before this happened,” he said.
The signing represents a second major accomplishment in as many weeks for Trump after inking “phase one” of a trade deal with China that ramps up Beijing’s purchases of American agricultural products and cools the escalating tariff war between the two countries.
But it also comes in the midst of the Senate impeachment trial, which continues later Wednesday with questions from senators to the legal teams representing Trump and House Democrats.
The USMCA gives American farmers more of a chance to compete in Canada’s highly restrictive dairy market, sets a minimum wage for workers manufacturing automobiles and increases the percentage of car parts required to become duty-free.
Labor unions, including the AFL-CIO, backed the new deal, but environmental groups criticized it for not going far enough to combat climate change.
Democrats also backed the new deal and helped negotiate some changes from the initial proposal.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who called the trade deal “a victory for America’s workers” when she helped get it passed by the Democrat-controlled House, was not invited to the signing ceremony.
Her spokesman, Henry Connelly, addressed the absence of Democrats.
“The White House hasn’t invited House Democrats to their USMCA signing ceremony,” he said Wednesday. “But we’ll be well represented in the huge changes to the original USMCA draft that Democrats wrested out of the administration on labor, prescription drugs, environment, and enforcement mechanisms.”
The House voted 385-41 on Dec. 19 to approve the agreement that replaced NAFTA, which was signed in 1994.
Nearly a month later, the Senate passed it in a bipartisan vote 89-10.
Following Trump’s signature, only Canada will have to ratify the deal to make it effective.
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