OTTAWA — After more than a year of talks, Canada finalized a revamped free-trade deal with the United States and Mexico. The new deal, dubbed the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA, will replace the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the deal "profoundly beneficial for our economy, for Canadian families, and for the middle class."
Reactions to the deal have been mixed.
Former prime minister Brian Mulroney praised the deal, stating that "Canada appears to have achieved most if not all of its important objectives."
The markets also took the news in stride, with the S&P/TSX composite index closing 0.2 per cent higher while the loonie posted an average gain of 0.86 of a US cent.
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, however, said that the deal "falls well short" of the Liberal government's stated goals. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh was also critical, tweeting that "we have a new name, but a worse deal."
Now that the dust has settled somewhat, here's an early look at some of the winners and losers of NAFTA 2.0.
"Protecting our auto industry was one of the core concerns that Canadians had about getting to a deal, and we're glad to say that we have significant protections.," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a press conference.
Automakers appear to agree.
A side letter published along with the main text of the agreement leaves out a percentage of eligible auto exports from tariffs — a move viewed as a win for the Canadian auto industry.
"One of the largest things is just having certainty now in terms of what the trading relationship is, and what the business environment is going to be going forward. Because business desperately needs certainty and uncertainty is anathema to getting things done.'' said David Adams, president of Global Automakers of Canada.
Unifor president Jerry Dias also welcomed the deal. "The threat of capricious auto tariffs has been lifted, stabilizing future investment,'' he said in a statement.
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Canada fought hard to maintain a key dispute-resolution provision, known as Chapter 19, allowing independent panels to solve disputes involving companies and governments.
It also preserved Chapter 20, a government-to-government dispute-settlement mechanism.
A chapter in the North American Free Trade Agreement allowing companies to sue governments over perceived mistreatment has been scrapped — a move Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says will result in lowered penalties for taxpayers as well as a strengthened ability to protect public health and the environment.
Greenpeace spokesman Keith Stewart agrees, but argues that Canadian negotiators have abandoned Trudeau's earlier promises that a new deal would have chapters on the environment and continues to coddle a fossil fuel economy.
Stewart says the new document doesn't even mention the words climate change.
Rules around copyright and intellectual property are set to change, extending the window after a creator's death to preserve rights to 70 years from 50.
However, on pharmaceuticals, new biologics — made from natural sources — will be copyright protected for 10 years, up from the current eight, an extension that analysts believe will benefit U.S. companies over Canadian firms.
Canadian consumers won't have to fork out duties for online purchases from the U.S. worth up to $150, an increase from the current $20.
But there's more: Language in the agreement no longer requires companies — such as Google or Microsoft, for example — to put a data centre in Canada in order to do business here, meaning Canadians' information could be housed south of the border and subject to American laws.
"We've been sacrificed,'' Bruno Letendre, head of the association that represents Quebec's milk producers said in an interview. "There's no doubt about that. Supply management has been sacrificed.''
The dairy industry was quick to criticize the renegotiated USMCA, saying it will limit exports while opening Canada to more American products.
"Granting an additional market access of 3.59 per cent to our domestic dairy market, eliminating competitive dairy classes and extraordinary measures to limit our ability to export dairy products will have a dramatic impact not only for dairy farmers but for the whole sector" Dairy Farmers of Canada President Pierre Lampron said.
"This has happened, despite assurances that our government would not sign a bad deal for Canadians."
Party Quebecois LeaderJean-Francois Lisee called the deal "a disgrace for Canada, a disgrace for Quebec." Quebec produces roughly half of the country's dairy products.
Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, however, assured supply-managed producers that compensation would be "carefully thought through." She did not provide further details.
It appears Canadian steel and aluminum workers are among those being sacrificed in the concessions made by the Liberal government in this deal.Ken Neumann, United Steelworkers
Steel and aluminum sector:
Industry leaders say they are disappointed the trade deal doesn't include an end to steep U.S. tariffs, adding there will be efforts to resolve the issue in the days leading to the final signing of the agreement.
United Steelworkers Canadian director Ken Neumann was more direct, saying Canada "sold out'' steel and aluminum workers by not getting the 25 per cent steel tariffs and 10 per cent aluminum tariffs removed.
"It appears Canadian steel and aluminum workers are among those being sacrificed in the concessions made by the Liberal government in this deal,'' he said in a statement.
The deal extends patents on biological drugs to 10 years from eight — an additional two years than desired for access to cheaper generic drugs used to treat conditions like Crohn's disease and rheumatoid arthritis.
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JURY'S STILL OUT
At the onset of negotiations, Freeland pushed for a chapter in the deal specific to gender rights as part of a broader promise to promote equality but no such chapter made its way into the USMCA.
She says, however, there is some "good language" in USMCA around gender.
Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde lobbied for inclusion of a separate chapter in the renegotiated agreement on Indigenous Peoples but it also fell by the wayside.
Still, he sees the USMCA as "the most inclusive international trade agreement for Indigenous peoples to date," pointing to provisions that protect rights.
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