Subscribe to the Real Truth for FREE news and analysis.Subscribe Now
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) – President Donald Trump joined the leaders of Canada and Mexico at a global meeting in Argentina on Friday to sign a revised North American trade pact, fulfilling a longstanding political promise with a deal he celebrated as a “groundbreaking achievement.”
The U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement is meant to replace the 24-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement, which Mr. Trump has long denigrated as a “disaster.” However, ongoing differences over steel and aluminum tariffs the U.S. has imposed on its northern and southern neighbors encroached on the celebratory moment.
Mr. Trump appeared with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and outgoing Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto at the Group of 20 nations summit in Buenos Aires for the formal signing ceremony. Each country’s legislature must also approve the agreement.
“It’s been long and hard. We’ve taken a lot of barbs and a little abuse and we got there,” Mr. Trump said of the pact. “It’s great for all our countries.”
Legislative approval is the next step in the process, but could prove to be a difficult task in the United States, especially now that Democrats will control the House of Representatives come January. Democrats and their allies in the labor movement are already demanding changes to the agreement.
Within hours of the signing, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said that for the deal to get majority support in Congress, it must have stronger labor and environmental protections and “must prove to be a net benefit to middle-class families and working people.”
While Mr. Trump hailed the revised trade pact, Mr. Trudeau was more measured and used the event to call on Mr. Trump to remove the steel and aluminum tariffs the U.S. slapped on Canada and Mexico. Mr. Trudeau also referenced recent downsizing by General Motors in North America as a “heavy blow.”
“With hard work, good will and determination I’m confident that we will get there,” Mr. Trudeau said.
Mr. Pena Nieto, who will handoff to his successor December 1, said he was honored to be at the signing on the last day of his administration, saying it is the culmination of a long process “that allows us to overcome differences and to conciliate our visions.”
The signing came at the front end of two days of tough diplomacy for Mr. Trump. On the top of his agenda is a Saturday dinner meeting with Chinese President Xi Jingping, which will determine if the two can ease escalating trade tensions.