Ana Swanson and Emily Cochrane
c.2020 The New York Times Company
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump signed the revised North American Free Trade Agreement into law Wednesday at the White House, fulfilling a key campaign promise and bringing more than two years of tumultuous negotiations over the continent’s trade rules to a close.
The trade deal, now called the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, updates the quarter-century-old NAFTA, with stronger protections for workers and the digital economy and new rules to encourage auto manufacturing in North America.
“Today we are finally ending the NAFTA nightmare and signing into law the brand-new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement,” Trump said during a signing ceremony at the White House.
“For the first time in American history, we have replaced a disastrous trade deal that rewarded outsourcing with a truly fair and reciprocal trade deal that will keep jobs, wealth and growth right here in America,” he said.
The deal will restore certainty about the direction of the North American economy for the multitude of companies that depend on the rules to carry out their businesses. While the Trump administration reached an agreement with Canada and Mexico more than a year ago, it came only after months of tense negotiations that included a threat by the president to leave Canada out of the deal completely.
And the agreement’s fate remained in question for months afterward given concerns among congressional Democrats, whose support was needed to approve the pact, that the new deal did not include strong enough provisions related to labor, the environment and pharmaceuticals.
Through months of tough negotiations last year, Trump’s trade advisers hammered out major concessions that ultimately won over congressional Democrats, as well as the AFL-CIO.
The deal constitutes an important political victory for Trump and his second trade win of the month. The president signed an initial trade pact with China at the White House just two weeks ago, giving him crucial talking points as he heads into his reelection campaign.
The new trade deal faces one final hurdle before it can go into effect: It still needs to be approved by the Canadian Parliament.