President Donald Trump acknowledged the ‘long and hard’ road that the United States, Canada and Mexico took to Friday’s signing of a new trade pact but said ‘great friendships’ came out of it.
‘This has been a battle and battles sometimes make great friendships,’ Trump told Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and outgoing Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto at the signing ceremony at the G20 summit.
‘We worked hard on this agreement – it’s been long and hard,’ he said. ‘we took a lot of barbs and a lot of abuse but we got there.’
The signing of the trade pact came to fruitation after more than a year of contentious negotiations that came right down to the wire.
U.S. President Donald Trump, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto attend the USMCA signing ceremony
Negotiations went down to the wire with questions as late as Thursday night on whether Trudeau would attend Friday’s signing
As late as Thursday night questions remained on whether the signing would take place after the ceremony didn’t appear on Trudeau’s official schedule and he told reporters Canada is ‘still in discussions with the Americans’ about the deal before he left for Buenos Aires.
But the three leaders sat down to put ink to paper, signing a deal that has a few questions hanging over it – mainly the fate of steel and aluminum tariffs the U.S. imposed on its North American neighbors.
Trudeau made a personal plea to Trump during the ceremony to get rid of the tariffs, saying the recent closures of auto plants by General Motors in the United States and Canada made it more important.
‘Donald it’s all the more reason we need to remove the tariffs on steel and aluminum between our two countries,’ Trudeau said.
Trump praised the deal in the lavish language he uses when touting one of his administration’s accomplishments.
He called the signing a ‘very historic occasion’ and noted the trade deal was one that would be the ‘envy of nations all around the world.’
He also claimed the USMCA – as he named the replacement for NAFTA – would bring back U.S. auto jobs and was ‘an amazing deal for our farmers.’
The deal ‘changes the trade landscape forever,’ Trump said.
‘The new agreement will assure a new prosperity,’ he added.
The signing by the three leaders was a formality – it was the three of them issuing a directive to their trade representatives to finish the final pact.
And the legislative bodies in each nation will have to ratify the treat.
Trump, however, didn’t appear to think he’d have a problem getting it through Congress.
‘It’s been so well reviewed I don’t anticipate much of a problem,’ he said.
The signing for President Donald Trump’s new North American trade deal appeared in jeopardy Thursday night
The signing ceremony for the trade agreement is not on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s schedule for the G20
The three nations had a bitter, year-long fight over the trade pact before reaching an 11th-hour deal in October, right as the deadline hit.
Friday’s signing ceremony is a crowning moment for Trump, who loves to tout his deal-making prowess.
When the agreement was reached in October, the president called it ‘truly historic news for our nation and the world.’
There is no formal meeting between Trump and Trudeau on either leader’s schedule for the Friday and Saturday summit.
Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters here on Thursday that there was still some fine tuning to do on the new trade pact before they would sign.
‘Our objective has always been to sign this agreement on Nov. 30 and we are on track to hit that objective,’ Freeland said shortly after the Canadian delegation arrived in Argentina, according to the Canadian Press.
Canada´s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and first lady Sophie Gregoire arrive in Buenos Aires
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump leaving for Buenos Aires
There are a few areas still to iron out.
U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum remain in the agreement, something the three sides have been trying to iron out.
And dairy remains a sticking point with the influential Canadian dairy lobby urging Trudeau’s government not to sign the trade deal as it gives the United States expanded access to Canada’s dairy, egg, and poultry markets.
‘A vast number of technical details need to be scrubbed and wrapped up,’ Freeland said. ‘The fact that this is an agreement in three languages adds to the level of technical complexity and it is on that level that we are just being sure that all the Is are dotted and all the Ts are crossed.’
The Friday deadline is important as new Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrado is being swore into office on Saturday and he could scramble the hard-fought agreement between the three nations.
Outgoing Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto is attending the G20 meeting.
The legislatures in all three countries would still need to ratify the USMC before it can go into effect.
Outgoing Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto will also attend the signing
Trudeau and Trump discussed their plans for the G20 summit in a November 27 phone call, according to the White House.
‘President Trump spoke with Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau this morning,’ spokesman Hogan Gidley said in a statement. ‘The two leaders discussed their disappointment in the announced closures of General Motors plants in their respective countries and their plans for the upcoming G20 Summit.’
Trudeau’s readout on the same call also mentioned lifting the tariffs the U.S. imposed on steel and aluminum.
‘The Prime Minister and the President agreed that the new trade agreement between Canada, the United States and Mexico would enhance North American competitiveness,’ his office said of the call. ‘The Prime Minister also reinforced the importance of both countries lifting the tariffs on steel and aluminum.’