Trump wants to have a giant signing ceremony for the updated US-Mexico-Canada trade deal, but the other two countries are refusing because of tariffs

  • President Donald Trump wants to hold a ceremonial signing for the new US-Mexico-Canada trade deal before the midterms to give the GOP a political boost.
  • Canada and Mexico are not keen to join since Trump’s steel and aluminium tariffs remain in place.
  • The three countries are continuing discussions on a deal to remove the tariffs.
  • The US wants the two countries to accept a quota system instead.

President Donald Trump’s trade policy is getting in the way of his desire to hold a ceremony to claim a major trade victory.

According to a report from Politico, Trump wants to hold a ceremonial signing of the new US-Canada-Mexico trade deal in a Midwestern city before the November midterm elections. But Canada and Mexico are resisting due to Trump’s tariffs on imports of steel and aluminium.

Despite the new trade agreement, which is an update of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Trump’s 25% tariff on imported steel and 10% tariff on imported aluminium remain in place – as do Canada and Mexico’s retaliatory trade measures against the US.

Canada’s ambassador to the US, David MacNaughton, told Politico that as long as those measures are in place the country will not take part in a signing ceremony.

“There won’t be any of that as long as the tariffs are in place,” MacNaughton said.

Any signing ceremony prior to the November 6 elections would only be for political show. Trump’s method for advancing the new trade deal, known as the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement or USMCA, through Congress requires a 60-day window from the deal’s text being submitted to Congress and a signing ceremony.

That means a formal signing by the three member countries’ executives couldn’t occur before November 30. The deal then has to clear a series of hurdles in each countries’ legislatures before the USMCA would go into effect.

Discussions about the tariffs are ongoing. As it stands,the US wants Canada and Mexico to accept quotas for steel and aluminium in lieu of tariffs, similar to agreements with Argentina, Brazil, and South Korea.

It’s unclear what each countries’ appetite would be for a quota, which limits the amount of each metal that can be shipped to the US in a year.

Trump imposed steel and aluminium tariffs in March, aiming to boost the US metals industries. Originally, key allies including Mexico and Canada were exempt from the tariffs but after failing to reach a deal, Trump slapped the import duties on the countries in June.

The decision prompted retaliatory tariffs from Mexico and Canada and frayed the countries’ relationships.

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