Canada, the U.S. and Mexico will each need to ratify the deal before it comes into effect
By Diego Flammini
Representatives from Canada, the United States and Mexico put ink to paper on a trilateral trade agreement on Tuesday.
Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Jesus Seade, Mexico’s undersecretary for North America, signed a revised version of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) during a ceremony in Mexico City.
Freeland was Canada’s minister of foreign affairs and main representative during the negotiations, which started in August 2017.
“This has been a long and arduous and, at times, fraught negotiation. We made it to the finish line because we learned how to work together,” Freeland said during the signing ceremony.
Leaders from all three countries signed an original version of the agreement in November 2018. Mexico ratified the deal in June 2019 but, in the U.S., the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives wouldn’t consider the trade pact until officials made updates to labour and environmental items.
Canadian representatives stated the country would ratify the deal once the U.S. did.
The signing of the trade agreement didn’t move ag markets, which surprised some analysts.
“It’s a disappointment to be honest with you,” said Moe Agostino, chief commodity strategist with Farms.com Risk Management. “I think the market wanted something. There’s a saying that if the bears have turkey for Thanksgiving, the bulls will have it for Christmas, but I don’t think that’s going to be the case.”
All three countries will need to ratify the deal again before it can come into effect.
Pushing the deal through before Christmas seems unlikely, Agostino said.
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell “said we don’t have time, we have to vote on other stuff, and we have to go on recess next week, so we’ll vote on this in 2020.”
McConnell confirmed that the Senate wouldn’t consider USMCA in 2019.
“We will not be doing USMCA in the Senate,” he said Tuesday, U.S. News reported. “That will have to come up, in all likelihood, right after the (impeachment) trial is finished in the Senate.”
Canadian industry representatives aren't as pleased about the deal as their American counterparts are.
Canada conceded almost 4 percent of its dairy market to U.S. dairy farmers during negotiations.
"The access to our country's dairy market given to the U.S. represents a significant loss, the equivalent of the combined dairy production of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia," Pierre Lampron, president of Dairy Farmers of Canada, told Farms.com in an emailed statement. "Market access is only the tip of the iceberg. Concessions include an oversight clause that gives the US the ability to intervene in the administration of our domestic system.
"The concessions also give the US the ability to impose the equivalent of a cap on global dairy exports which will limit Canada’s ability to export dairy products. Would the US ever accept such terms?”
Farms.com has reached out to Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau for comment.