Nov 30, 2018
U.S., Canada, Mexico sign new trade agreement

The United States has signed a new trade agreement with Canada and Mexico.

The new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) replaces the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the White House said. The signing took place Nov. 30 at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

It wasn’t immediately clear how details of the agreement will affect specialty crop growers.

“This new deal will be the most modern, up-to-date, and balanced trade agreement in the history of our country, with the most advanced protections for workers ever developed,” U.S. President Donald Trump said in a written statement.

The Canadian government said in a news release the agreement would strengthen economic ties between the three countries and contribute to North America’s global competitiveness.

“Our focus from the outset of the negotiations was the need to preserve middle-class jobs and foster economic growth,” said Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland. “The new NAFTA preserves tariff-free access in the North American trading bloc and secures essential cross-border supply chains that make North America more globally competitive. Our job as a government is to safeguard economic gains and prevent economic threats, and that is what we’ve done with the new agreement. What we have achieved is a reflection of the team Canada approach we took throughout negotiations, and I thank Canadians for their support and unity.”

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto‏ used his verified Twitter account to share a photo of the three country’s leaders signing the document.

“On my last day as president, I am very honored to have participated in the signing of the new trade agreement between Mexico, the United States and Canada,” he wrote, according to an electronic translation. “This day concludes a long process of dialogue and negotiation that would consolidate the economic integration of North America.”

The White House said USMCA’s labor and environment chapters are “fully enforceable and represent the strongest labor and environmental provisions of any trade agreement ever negotiated.”

The Mexican President’s office wrote in a government blog that the agreement “is the first trade agreement that incorporates elements to address the social impact of international trade, since it facilitates the participation of more sectors of the economy, extends the protection of workers’ rights, strengthens environmental protection and incorporates a revision clause that will facilitate its constant updating.”

U.S. Senator Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry also praised signing the agreement.

“I congratulate President Trump on signing the USMCA, and I thank him for strengthening the trading relationships with Canada and Mexico that our American farmers and ranchers have long depended on,” Roberts said. “Today marks an important step towards congressional consideration, and I look forward to doing just that in the new year.”

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said the agreement benefited farmers, although he didn’t mention specialty crop producers specifically.

“The new USMCA makes important specific changes that are beneficial to our agricultural producers,” he said. “We have secured greater access to the Mexican and Canadian markets and lowered barriers for many of our products.”

In order for the agreement to take effect, the three countries still need to ratify the agreement domestically.

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