U.S. and Canada agree free trade deal


Although U.S. President Donald Trump plans to sign the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement in 60 days, the new accord has a long road ahead as lawmakers in all three countries must still pass it before it goes into effect.

The president said the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which replaces Nafta, would bring thousands of jobs back to North America.

As a result, more American milk, butter, cheese and other dairy products will flow into Canada duty-free, with reciprocal treatment for Canadian dairy exports to the U.S.

The new deal must now go to Congress for approval, with a vote not expected until next year, after midterm elections.

With the ink still drying on the U.S. -Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement (USMCA), southwestern Ontario dairy farmers were slamming the renegotiated pact as potentially devastating for their industry.

The new agreement will guarantee American jobs and incentivize investment, the president said, calling the deal a "new dawn" for the American auto industry.

Most news reports say the issues that are outstanding can be breached and there is an optimistic tone, so there could be an opportunity to buy the Canadian dollar if liquidity is ample and if it hasn't moved to far.

"Anything you submit to Congress is trouble no matter what", Trump said, predicting that Democrats would say, "Trump likes it so we're not going to approve it".

Chris Groenendijk, of the 300-acre Green Dike Farm in Westholme, near Crofton, where 150 cows are milked, said such agreements chip away at Canada's dairy sector.

According to Trump, it would be the "US-Mexico trade agreement", to which Canada, he said, might be added.

Other contentious, so-called USA poison pills - which would have limited Canada and Mexico's ability to bid on lucrative US procurement projects - are gone.

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The new version would give USA farmers greater access to the Canadian dairy market.

They noted that the accord would come up for review every six years, which they said would give the US significant leverage if Canada or Mexico don't comply with any parts of it.

Alcoa Corp., a USA aluminum producer with smelters in Canada, said it was "disappointed" there was no resolution to the Section 232 tariffs on aluminum.

Ontario and Quebec premiers criticized the dairy concessions as a bad deal for farmers, though Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said at a press conference Monday that they would be made whole. For Ohio, the 25 percent tariff on US soybeans, the top agricultural product exported to China, is the most painful.

Markets took the news of the deal in stride, with the S&P/TSX composite index closing 0.2 per cent higher while the loonie posted an average gain of 0.86 of a United States cent than Friday.

America's free trade pact with Mexico and Canada may be alive, but the same can't be said for the NAFTA moniker.

Canada's automakers appear to be the big winners from a renegotiated trade pact between Canada, the USA and Mexico, while steel and aluminum makers and dairy producers have less to celebrate. The president, long a NAFTA critic, complains that the original treaty cost the United States millions of factory jobs and led to persistent US trade deficits with its southern neighbor. "We will be watching very carefully to see and to make sure that all of the things that have been pledged and promised in the agreement do come about".

The agreement, moreover, does not address the steel or aluminum tariffs that the United States placed on its North American neighbors earlier this year. Additionally, exclusivity for biologic drugs before generics can be produced will be increased to 10 years in Canada from eight years, a win for the pharma industry.

However, the new agreement has B.C. agreeing to scrap the restrictions that prevent US wines from also showing up on grocery-store shelves.

John Maxwell is a dairy farmer in Donahue, Iowa.