The leaders of Canada, Mexico and the United States signed a new North American trade deal Friday. Justin Trudeau, Enrique Pena Nieto and Donald Trump inked the deal in Argentina, ahead of the opening of the G-20 summit.
It will, however, take a while for the agreement to take effect as lawmakers from all three countries have to approve the scheme, officially known as the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA.
The pact underpins $1.2 billion in annual trade among the three countries.
It replaces NAFTA, a pact that Trump had roundly criticized in his 2016 presidential campaign, terming it the worst trade deal in history and blaming NAFTA for the loss of American manufacturing jobs since it went into effect in 1994.
Trump called the deal a “model agreement that changes the trade landscape forever” at a news conference with his North American counterparts in Buenos Aires, Argentina, ahead of the G-20 conference.
When the three countries agreed on the USMCA deal earlier this year, the U.S. leader said, “This landmark agreement will send cash and jobs pouring into the United States and into North America.”
Joshua Meltzer, a senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, told VOA at that time that the deal was not that much different from NAFTA.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a vastly different deal at all.” Meltzer said. “It’s an agreement that’s over 20 years old and so it clearly needed to be updated.I think certainly it reduces a level of anxiety about how the administration was going to square its rhetoric on trade with an actual trade deal. We certainly see some increased protectionism in some areas, particularly in the auto sector.But overall it’s an update of a trade agreement, it’s comprehensive, and it’s largely good for improving integration between the three economies.”