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US, Mexico, Canada agree on free trade pact to replace NAFTA

AFP  |  Washington 

Negotiators from and the went down to the wire but were able to reach an agreement on a new free trade that will include Mexico, the governments announced late Sunday night.

The United States-Mexico-Agreement (USMCA) updates and replaces the nearly 25-year-old North American Free (NAFTA), which had labeled a disaster and promised to cancel.

The rewrite "will result in freer markets, fairer trade and robust economic growth in our region," according to a joint statement from US Trade and Canada's

After more than a year of talks, and six weeks of intense discussions, the governments were able to overcome their differences with both sides conceding some ground, but both hailing the agreement as a good deal for their citizens in the region of 500 million residents that conducts about $1 trillion in trade a year.

will open its dairy market further to US producers, and left unchanged the dispute settlement provisions which demanded.

This will allow them to sign the agreement before Mexico's leaves office December 1, the date that was the cause of the last minute flurry of activity.

Under US law, the is required to submit the text of the trade deal to 60 days before signing -- and officials barely made it by midnight.

The and had already reached an agreement on a new NAFTA in late August, and since then negotiators from had been in for continuous talks, but as of late last week officials warned time was running out.

Trump complained about the behavior of Canadian officials, and said he rejected a meeting with Justin Trudeau, although Trudeau's office said no meeting was planned.

A senior said the final rewrite is a "fantastic agreement" and he called it "a big win for the United States, and Canada."

In addition to the changes to the dairy market in Canada, officials said it includes stronger protections for workers, tough environmental rules, and updates the trade relationship to cover the digital and provides "groundbreaking" intellectual property protections, the told reporters.

In addition, it adds provisions to prevent "manipulation" of the trade rules, including covering currency values, and controls over outside countries trying to take advantage of the duty-free market, he said.

While the new deal -- which includes revised provisions on the critical auto sector -- should protect and Canada from Trump's threatened 25 percent tariffs on cars, still pending are the duties on and aluminum, which officials said was on a "separate track," handled by the Commerce Department.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, October 01 2018. 11:00 IST