(Canadian Press)

Canada signs onto new NAFTA on sidelines of high-stakes G20 summit

The signing of the trade agreement is largely ceremonial, because it will still need to be ratified by all three countries

After much anticipation, Canada signed the revamped NAFTA in Buenos Aires on the sidelines of the high-profile G20 summit Friday.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joined U.S. President Donald Trump and outgoing Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto at a hotel to formally sign the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

“The new agreement lifts the risk of serious economic uncertainty that lingers throughout the trade renegotiation process — uncertainty that would have only gotten worse and more damaging had we not reached a new NAFTA,” Trudeau said.

“There is much more work to do in lowering trade barriers and in fostering growth that benefits everyone, but reaching a new free trade agreement with the United States and Mexico is a major step for our economy.”

READ MORE: World eyes trade tension as Trudeau arrives at high-drama G20 summit

Trump, standing in between his Canadian and Mexican counterparts, said the new deal was a model agreement that would stop auto jobs from going overseas, protect intellectual property rights and provide robust protections for digital trade and financial services.

U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum remain in place, but a Canadian official said an advantage to signing onto the agreement now is an auto side letter exempting Canada of potential tariffs on exports of up to 2.6 million vehicles — well above current levels.

Friday marked an important deadline for the trade pact.

A new Mexican president takes over Saturday, who might not honour the tentative deal struck by his predecessor.

The signing of the trade agreement is largely ceremonial, because it will still need to be ratified by all three countries before it can formally take effect.

U.S. lawmakers have already indicated they don’t expect to tackle the USMCA until after the new Congress is sworn in early next year.

The deal — 32 chapters, 11 annexes and 12 side letters — sets new rules for the auto sector, including a higher threshold for North American content and rules requiring 40 per cent of car parts be made by workers paid at least $16 an hour.

It preserves a contentious dispute-resolution system the U.S. dearly wanted gone, extends patent protections for biologic drugs and allows U.S. farmers a 3.6-per-cent share of Canada’s famously guarded market for poultry, eggs and dairy products — a concession that dismayed Canadian dairy producers.

Despite the symbolism of Friday’s signing, Trump has no meetings with Trudeau scheduled while the two are in Argentina.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Rebound recovery program helps more than 50 PQB businesses remain open

Nearly $90K in aid received through Oceanside Initiatives plan

Parksville family receives anonymous letters complaining children are being too loud

Letter said the noise of kids playing in the backyard is ‘unbearable’

PQBeat Podcast: Beloved Parksville volunteer Joan LeMoine

Discussion includes childhood memories, receiving the key to the city and more

QUIZ: How much do you know about British Columbia?

On this B.C. Day long weekend, put your knowledge of our province to the test

VIDEO: Otter pups learn to swim at B.C. wildlife rescue facility

Watch Critter Care’s Nathan Wagstaffe help seven young otters go for their first dip

Plane crashes into Nelson supermarket parking lot

Pilot and passenger have minor injuries

Michael Buble among 13 British Columbians to receive Order of B.C.

Ceremony will be delayed to 2021 due to COVID-19

U.S. border communities feel loss of Canadian tourists, shoppers and friends

Restrictions on non-essential travel across the Canada-U.S. border have been in place since March 2`

Rollout of COVID-19 Alert app faces criticism over accessibility

App requires users to have Apple or Android phones made in the last five years, and a relatively new operating system

Woman arrested near Nanaimo beach after alleged road rage incidents

37-year-old woman facing charges including assault, assaulting a police officer, impaired driving

Alleged impaired driver sparks small wildfire near Lytton after crash: B.C. RCMP

Good Samaritans prevented the blaze from getting out of control

Most Read