U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade deal will help stave off U.S. recession: U.S. Chamber CEO

By Andrea Shalal and Jonas Ekblom

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Approval and implementation of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade agreement will provide a major boost to the U.S. economy and help stave off a recession, Thomas Donohue, chief executive of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said on Thursday.

Donohue, whose organization is spearheading a major campaign to win passage of the trade agreement, said moving ahead with the USMCA would also help pave the way for trade agreements with China, the European Union, Japan and other countries.

“It is a major component in keeping us out of a recession,” Donohue told Reuters after a news conference with other trade associations pushing the U.S. Congress to ratify the replacement for the current North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

He said the timing was critical given other drags on the U.S. economy, including troubles at top U.S. exporter Boeing Co, which this week reported its biggest-ever quarterly loss due to the spiraling cost of resolving issues with its 737 MAX.

Boeing has reduced production of the grounded jet and suspended deliveries, but on Wednesday warned it might have to shut production completely if it runs into new hurdles with global regulators.

The single-aisle plane was grounded worldwide in March after two fatal crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia.

“A reduction in our economic growth and our trade is taking place with the Boeing problem,” Donohue said. “They’ll survive this, they’ll move forward.”

House of Representatives Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy on Thursday criticized House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other House Democrats, who control the chamber, for not bringing the USMCA up for a vote before lawmakers leave for their summer recess.

“What will this do? Only make our country stronger, more prosperous, create more jobs, make the debate with China even in a stronger position for America and make the future better than it is today. But they didn’t do anything about it,” McCarthy told reporters at a news conference.

Donohue and other business leaders cited growing bipartisan support for the USMCA and expressed optimism that the House would move to ratify the agreement in September.

Nearly 600 trade and commerce groups sent a letter urging lawmakers to approve the deal as soon as possible.

“If we don’t move positively on Canada and Mexico, it will be very, very difficult for us to muster the goodwill in other places to get agreements with China, with Japan and the EU,” Donohue told a news conference.

Leaders from the United States, Mexico and Canada signed the agreement in November, but it must be ratified by lawmakers in all three countries.

House Democrats have promised to block the deal until their concerns over environmental, labor and pharmaceutical aspects of the agreement are met, but Donohue and others said they were upbeat those issues could be resolved.

White House officials say the agreement would add about half a percentage point of economic growth to the U.S. economy, creating several hundred thousand jobs and sparking up to $100 billion in new investments in the United States.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer is due to meet with Democratic lawmakers about the agreement again this week, with a focus on enforcement issues.

Industry leaders said moving forward would reduce uncertainty and free businesses to make new investments.

“The thing we hear most about the need to move forward with this agreement is the need to provide certainty,” said Matthew Shay, president of the National Retail Federation.

The group said it would use state fairs and events in local districts in coming weeks to pressure lawmakers to back passage of the deal while campaigning against its opponents.

“We will be activating our grassroots network and targeting key districts,” Donohue said. “You can’t be pro-jobs and anti-USCMA.”

(Additional reporting by Susan Cornwell; editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jonathan Oatis)

U.S., Canada, Mexico sign trade deal after last-minute brinkmanship

U.S. President Donald Trump, Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto attend the USMCA signing ceremony before the G20 leaders summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina November 30, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

By Roberta Rampton

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – The leaders of Mexico, Canada and the United States signed a North American trade pact on Friday after brinkmanship over the final details of the deal continued through the eve of the signing.

They agreed on a deal in principle to govern the more than trillion dollars of mutual trade after a year and a half of acrimonious negotiations concluded with a late-night bargain just an hour before a deadline on Sept. 30.

Since then, the three sides have bickered over the wording and the finer points of the deal and still had not agreed just hours before officials were due to sit down and sign it as the G20 summit kicks off in Buenos Aires.

Legislators from the three countries still have to approve the pact, officially known as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), before it goes into effect and replaces the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s spokesman only confirmed his attendance late on Thursday. Before signing the deal he continued to refer to as “the New NAFTA,” Trudeau told Trump the two should continue to work together to eliminate steel and aluminum tariffs.

Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto joined the ceremony on his last day in office.

Trump had vowed to revamp NAFTA during his 2016 presidential election campaign. He threatened to tear it up and withdraw the U.S. completely at times during the negotiation, which would have left trade between the three neighbors in disarray.

Trump forced Canada and Mexico to renegotiate the 24-year-old agreement because he said the existing pact encouraged U.S. companies to move jobs to low-wage Mexico.

U.S. objections to Canada’s protected internal market for dairy products was a major challenge facing negotiators during the talks, and Trump repeatedly demanded concessions and accused Canada of hurting U.S. farmers.

A side letter to the September agreement showed that Trump preserved the ability to impose threatened 25 percent global tariffs on autos while largely exempting passenger vehicles, pickup trucks and auto parts from Canada and Mexico.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton and Caroline Stauffer in Buenos Aires and David Ljunggren in Ottawa; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Chizu Nomiyama)

Trump cites ‘historic’ trade pact with Canada, Mexico

FILE PHOTO: Flags of the U.S., Canada and Mexico fly next to each other in Detroit, Michigan, U.S. August 29, 2018. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook/File Photo

By Susan Heavey

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday took credit for salvaging a trilateral free trade accord with Canada and Mexico, marking it as a victory in his campaign to reshape global commerce as financial markets breathed a sigh of relief.

The deal, announced on Sunday, is a reworking of the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement, which underpins $1.2 trillion in trade between the three countries. Trump had described NAFTA as a bad deal for Americans and threatened to eliminate it as part of his “America First” agenda.

The new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) is aimed at bringing more jobs into the United States, with Canada and Mexico accepting more restrictive commerce with the United States, their main export partner.

While changing NAFTA and bringing down U.S. trade deficits was a top Trump campaign pledge, Sunday’s agreement largely leaves the broader deal intact and maintains supply chains that would have been fractured under weaker bilateral deals.

U.S., Canadian and Mexican stocks were trading higher on Monday, with the benchmark S&P 500 index.SPX rising more than 0.7 percent and the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX index. GSPTS gaining about 0.4 percent.

The Canadian dollar CAD strengthened to a four-month high against the U.S. dollar, while the Mexican peso rose to near a two-month high against the greenback before paring some gains.

Trump, who is scheduled to make a statement at 11 a.m. EDT (1500 GMT), on Twitter called the agreement with the United States’ northern neighbor “wonderful” and “a historic transaction.”

“It is a great deal for all three countries, solves the many deficiencies and mistakes in NAFTA, greatly opens markets to our Farmers and Manufacturers, reduce Trade Barriers to the U.S. and will bring all three Great Nations closer together in competition with the rest of the world,” Trump wrote.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Sunday called it “a good day for Canada” after negotiators worked frantically ahead of the U.S.-imposed midnight deadline. He is scheduled to speak to reporters at noon EDT (1600 GMT).

The pact preserved a key trade dispute settlement mechanism sought by Canada even as Ottawa agreed to open up its dairy markets to U.S. farmers.

The deal effectively maintains the current auto sector and largely spares Canada and Mexico from the prospect of U.S. tariffs on their vehicles, although it will make it harder for global automakers to build cars cheaply in Mexico.

Trump vowed during his 2016 presidential campaign to tear up current U.S. trade deals, which he blamed for a loss of American manufacturing jobs. His administration has abandoned other trade accords and slapped tariffs on a number of key trading partners, including China.

“It’s a promise made, promise kept,” Peter Navarro, the White House trade adviser, told Fox News on Monday. “NAFTA is dead. We have USMCA.”

U.S. President Donald Trump takes a question from a New York Times reporter during a news conference on the sidelines of the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, U.S., September 26, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

U.S. President Donald Trump takes a question from a New York Times reporter during a news conference on the sidelines of the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, U.S., September 26, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

STEEL TARIFFS

Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo on Monday said the new accord could be signed by the three countries’ leaders when they meet at a G20 summit in Buenos Aires in late November.

The deal does not include any changes to separate U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum levied on a number of Washington’s trading partners, including Canada, Mexico, China and the European Union.

Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray on Monday said he hoped concerns over the metals tariffs could be resolved before the new trilateral deal is signed.

Navarro, in his interview with Fox, said the two trade issues were separate.

U.S. officials intend to sign the new trilateral deal by Nov. 30, Navarro said. It would then be submitted for approval by the U.S. Congress, currently controlled by Trump’s fellow Republicans.

U.S. Senator Pat Roberts, a Kansas Republican who oversees the Senate’s agricultural committee, said he was “eager to review the details” of the deal and noted the outsized role trade with Canada and Mexico had on rural U.S. states like his.

U.S. Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa, a top farming state, praised the agreement in a tweet on Monday: “Our farmers need stability and access to markets.”

Democratic U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, which borders Canada, also said she would review the terms and was glad her state’s “number one trading partner” was “back in the mix.”

The United States and Mexico clinched a bilateral agreement in late August after the Trump administration sought separate lines of talks, leaving Canada to negotiate its own terms.

A senior source close to the trade talks said Mexico’s Videgaray, Trudeau’s chief of staff Katie Telford and White House adviser Jared Kushner helped over the weekend to facilitate Sunday’s agreement. Advisers to Mexico’s incoming government, Marcelo Ebrard and Jesus Seade, were also consulted “in real time,” the source said.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey; Additional reporting by Lisa Lambert in Washington and Frank Jack Daniel in Mexico City; Editing by Franklin Paul and Paul Simao)