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Trump Signs USMCA; Ottawa Begins Ratification Process

Posted January 30, 2020

At a White House ceremony yesterday, President Donald Trump signed into law a new trade pact with Canada and Mexico.

The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA, delivers on one of the president’s signature campaign promises: to replace the Clinton-era North American Free Trade Agreement, which Trump has often called “one of the worst trade deals” in history.

“We are finally ending the NAFTA nightmare,” Trump said Wednesday in front of a group of Republican lawmakers, government officials and business leaders. Trump hailed the new trade deal a “colossal victory” for farmers, factory workers and even other countries.

Note: The USMCA does not take effect with Trump’s signature. The Canadian parliament must still ratify the pact. Additionally, it will take several months for the governments of the three countries to develop regulations to interpret the pact’s provisions before the new rules finally take hold. 

New Developments in Ottawa

Yesterday, the minority Liberal government was able to gain enough support from other parties to adopt a preliminary motion on the new NAFTA bill, allowing them to introduce the bill to ratify the agreement.

Both the opposition Conservatives and the NDP have raised criticisms of the deal and neither have committed to supporting its ratification. The Bloc Quebecois says it plans to stand in the way of fast-tracking approval. It wants the deal’s text to be closely studied in committee and debated in the House of Commons.

“It is in the national interest for us to finish this process, to put this process behind us, to have the economic and political certainty that ratification will bring,” Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said today outside the House.

Trade associations, industry groups and premiers from across the country have called on lawmakers in parliament to support the bill without delay.

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