Nov. 30 (UPI) — President Donald Trump agreed with neighbors Canada and Mexico Friday by signing a new agreement to replace the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement at the G20 summit in Argentina.
Trump signed the agreement with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, on his last day in office as Mexico’s leader. Legislative bodies from each of the nations still need to approve the deal, called the U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement, or USMCA.
All three leaders are in Argentina to attend the G20 summit.
The president campaigned in 2016 on negotiating a new deal with Canada and Mexico, charging that the countries took advantage of the United States under NAFTA. That initially brought rebukes from both countries and the Trump administration imposed tariffs on Canada and Mexico. Both countries responded with retaliatory tariffs — which remain in effect, despite the leaders having signed the agreement.
“This has been a battle, and battles sometimes make great friendships,” Trump said at the start of the signing ceremony.
Trump called the measure the “largest, most significant, modern and balanced trade agreement in history,” during his remarks with Trudeau and Nieto.
“All of our countries will benefit greatly,” Trump said. “In the United States, the new trade pact will promote high-paying manufacturing jobs and promote greater access for American exports across a range of sectors including our farming, manufacturing and service industries.”
While many in the U.S. manufacturing and agricultural industries applauded the deal, they warned that the administration’s failure to remove the tariffs enacted during the trade dispute will hamper any benefits they would see from the deal.
The U.S. will continue tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, and Mexico’s retaliatory tariffs on many U.S. agricultural products will also remain.
Industry groups around the country released statements Friday urging the Trump administration to remove the tariffs.
Farmers for Free Trade called the tariffs a “big caveat” to what would otherwise be a win for farmers. And the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers expressed concern that the continuation of tariffs could “completely eliminate any benefits derived from the new USMCA agreement.”
“The big advantage with the USMCA is it will maintain zero duty access,” said Dave Warren, a spokesman for the National Pork Council. “For us to take advantage of that, obviously we can’t have tariffs.”
Trudeau addressed Trump directly about the tariffs, telling the president the two countries needed to work together “to remove the tariffs on steel and aluminum between our countries.”
Nieto said the new agreement was “the first trade agreement that incorporates elements that address the social impact of international trade; it enables the participation of more sectors in the economy.”
Trump also has scheduled meetings during the summit with Argentinian President Mauricio Macro, South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Trump, though, will not be meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. He canceled the meeting Thursday, blaming it on Russia capturing Ukrainian vessels on the Kerch Strait last weekend.