Canada and United States agree last-minute trade deal

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland speaks to the media as she arrives at the Office of the United States Trade Representative Tuesday Sept. 11 2018 in Washington

The US and Canada have reached a deal on an updated North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), according to officials briefed on the negotiations.

The new deal, reached just before a midnight deadline imposed by the U.S., will be called the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA.

NAFTA tore down most trade barriers between the United States, Canada and Mexico, leading to a surge in trade between the three countries.

Despite the fact it's one of Trump's favourite talking points, the politically sensitive question of greater USA access to Canada's dairy market is also no longer a hurdle, say sources familiar with the talks. Washington has already reached a bilateral deal with Mexico, the third NAFTA member.

The Trump administration plans to send the new deal to Congress, starting a 60-day review period before Trump can sign it. Congress can suggest changes during that time. WTO-bound tariff rates would then apply.Under that scenario, Canadian exporters could face an additional U.S.$3.5-5 billion in customs duties, equivalent to the value of 1.25 to 1.8 per cent of current exports.

"His tariffs are too high, he doesn't seem to want to move and I've told him forget about it", Trump said at a freewheeling press conference.

Negotiators - still apart on matters such as dispute resolution and a USA demand for more access to Canada's dairy markets - are also tackling the matter of American tariffs.

Officials say the agreement preserves a NAFTA dispute-resolution process that the USA wanted to jettison.

In August, the United States and Mexico resolved an issue over auto manufacturing, but several sticking points with Canada remained.

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The three North American countries do about $1 trillion in trade among themselves annually.

Keeping chapter 19 will not affect Washington's enforcement of anti-dumping and anti-subsidy laws, said a US official.

After months of sputtering talks, momentum picked up this weekend as Trudeau inserted himself and made clear that he wanted to get something done.

Beyond that, the renegotiation of NAFTA has been marred by a fake public consultation, the undue influence and involvement of corporate lobby groups, and a lack of transparency.

According to a report by the USTR, Canada's existing supply-management systems that regulate its dairy, chicken, turkey, and egg industries impose tariff-rate quotas for imports.

Canada, the US' second largest trade partner, was excluded from a revamped NAFTA deal separately negotiated between Mexico and the U.S. in August after nearly a year of negotiations. And only vehicles that failed to meet the rules of origin for auto parts agreed to by the USA and Mexico would even potentially be subject to the proposed auto tariffs.

Mexico's president-elect, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, previously said he would insist that all three countries be part of NAFTA and that Washington had made a new counter-proposal to Ottawa.

'Lots of progress, but we're not there yet, ' MacNaughton told reporters.

Discussions between the United States and Canada had stalled amid souring relations between Trudeau and Trump, who lashed out at Canada last week during the United Nations General Assembly meeting for mistreating the United States on trade. They suspected that Canada, which had said it wasn't bound by US deadlines, was delaying the talks until after provincial elections Monday in Quebec, where support for Canadian dairy tariffs runs high. Then it's likely to be taken up in Congress next year.

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