United States signs 'most balanced deal ever'

US President Donald Trump with Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto left and Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

The deal emerged in early October, months after Trump hit Mexico and Canada with tariffs on their steel and aluminum products - a move set off retaliatory tariffs and negotiations to create a new trade pact.

Noting this week's announcement by top North American automaker General Motors to close several factories in Canada and the United States, Trudeau lamented the factory shutdowns "are a heavy blow".

The USMCA covers such areas as tariffs, automobile industry, the intellectual property rights, labour standards, protection of the environment and agriculture and would replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Obviously, the fact that only minor changes were made isn't satisfying for Trump, so he has taken to denying reality, saying that he's gotten rid of NAFTA, and dubbing the new deal the USMCA (United States, Mexico, and Canada.) He appears to hope that this new name will dupe his followers. With Democrats taking control of the House in January, its passage through Congress remains uncertain, but the president professed confidently that he didn't expect "much of a problem".

"Canadians got here because Team Canada was driven by the interests of the middle class", Trudeau said. No one has been spared in that trade fight - not even Canada and Mexico, the top two buyers of USA goods.

In his remarks Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stressed the importance of locking down an agreement while he stood with Trump and outgoing Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.

Trump himself acknowledged that it hadn't been easy, but said "battles sometimes make great friendships".

The ceremonial signing does not mean the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement - the USMCA, as it has been rebranded - will now go into effect.

USMCA will govern more than $1tn worth of trade between the countries.

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Before Trump arrived in Argentina he injected additional drama into the proceedings by cancelling a planned meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. A senior White House official later said Trump and bin Salman exchanged pleasantries during a subsequent leaders' session.

The agreement was signed by Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto on his last day in office.

Simply put, "The NAFTA 2.0 text is not the transformational replacement of the corporate-rigged trade-pact model that progressive activists, unions, and congressional Democrats have long demanded", wrote Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch.

Last year, Rubio said any new trade agreement should increase "oversight and enforcement" of illegal trade practices and that Mexico should have to raise its minimum labor and environmental standards to "limit excessive and unfair production cost advantages" over USA farmers. Trump, who has called NAFTA the worst trade deal in world history, has wrongly insisted that he is terminating NAFTA and replacing it with something entirely new.

His government is officially calling the pact the Canada-US-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA).

Both Trudeau and Trump have taken criticism over the new agreement.

For the record, the document's preamble refers to an "Agreement between the United States of America, the United Mexican States and Canada".

On Thursday, as Trump was leaving Washington for Argentina, his former attorney and fixer, Michael D. Cohen, pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about that project, and implicated the president.

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