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Money NAFTA 2.1: The changes Democrats (and Canada) settled on

12:15  11 december  2019
12:15  11 december  2019 Source:   cbc.ca

NAFTA ministers to meet in Washington on Wednesday

  NAFTA ministers to meet in Washington on Wednesday The meeting comes as the Trump administration is nearing a compromise with House Democrats to make changes to the USMCA. Lighthizer has been negotiating with a group of nine House Democrats to address four main concerns involving the pact’s labor, environmental, enforcement and drug pricing provisions.Any changes to the text would have to be approved by Canada and Mexico before the Trump administration can finalize the agreement and send it to Congress for a vote. Canada is expected to accept changes to the text without issue.

The North American Free Trade Agreement ( NAFTA ; Spanish: Tratado de Libre Comercio de América del Norte, TLCAN; French: Accord de libre-échange nord-américain, ALÉNA)

Many Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives are pushing for progressive changes to the deal on labour and environmental provisions, as well as rules for pharmaceutical drugs. The Council of Canadians has always been a leader in the fight for better, fairer trade deals.

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, Chrystia Freeland standing next to a man in a suit and tie: Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, second left, acknowledges the applause of her Mexican counterparts after signing a new protocol to amend the North American trade agreement in Mexico City Tuesday.© Provided by cbc.ca Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, second left, acknowledges the applause of her Mexican counterparts after signing a new protocol to amend the North American trade agreement in Mexico City Tuesday.

Canada has again joined Mexico and the U.S. to sign on to the final — and this time they really mean final, apparently — text to improve the North American free trade agreement.

Mexico was the target of most of the revisions and concessions that Congressional Democrats were looking for, in return for letting the new NAFTA (officially the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement, or CUSMA) come to a vote in Congress.

Trudeau government comes closer to ratifying new NAFTA, potentially ending long political deadlock

  Trudeau government comes closer to ratifying new NAFTA, potentially ending long political deadlock OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appeared to be one step closer to finalizing a free-trade pact with the U.S. and Mexico on Monday, potentially ending a prolonged political deadlock that has weighed on the broader Canadian economy. An agreement to ratify the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) would notch a major political victory for the battered Liberals, who returned to Parliament last week with a minority government and a weakened mandate. Concerns had been growing that House Democrats in the U.S. would not ratify the deal before 2020, after which attention would turn toward the presidential election and ongoing impeachment proceedings.

The Agreement between the United States of America, the United Mexican States, and Canada is a signed but not ratified free trade agreement between Canada , Mexico, and the United States.

Top Democrats have made the priorities and concerns that need to be addressed in the proposed trade agreement clear to the Administration. Ambassador MacNaughton has been a key figure one Canada ’s NAFTA 2 .0 negotiating team. The Minister of Foreign Affairs also released a statement.

But Canada had to agree to it all anyway. And a few of the changes impact Canada directly.

For most of the day, all Canadians knew of the compromises House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had orchestrated came from a four-page, partisan sales job handed out by Democrats on the powerful House ways and means committee.

It was suppertime before the Canadian government released "a summary of revised outcomes": the Coles Notes version of the legal text Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland signed on Canada's behalf in Mexico City Tuesday.

That official text was not public as of late Tuesday night. Canada may have signed on, but Canadians haven't been told exactly what they've signed up for.

Here are some key things we've learned so far:

State-to-state dispute resolution: fixed

Chapter 31 of the new text signed over a year ago failed to fix a fundamental weakness of the original deal: the ability of a country to block the formation of arbitration panels to settle disputes arising from accusations that one partner has failed to live up to their obligations.

Freeland in Mexico today as CUSMA meets its 'moment of truth'

  Freeland in Mexico today as CUSMA meets its 'moment of truth' Freeland in Mexico today as CUSMA meets its 'moment of truth'Mexico's Foreign Ministry says officials will meet at midday Tuesday at the presidential palace, along with U.S. President Donald Trump's trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, and Trump's son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner.

Welcome to NAFTA 2 .0. The new deal updates NAFTA for the 21st century, especially on intellectual property, labor rights and environmental protections.

The agreement with Canada and Mexico — two of the United States' biggest trading partners — fulfills President Donald Trump's campaign pledge to But some experts questioned whether the changes to NAFTA were worth the strain put on relations with Canada by Trump's threats and brinkmanship

Over time, this panel-blocking rendered NAFTA's dispute settlement process (Chapter 20 in the original agreement) nearly useless. In order for the agreement to be enforceable, it needs effective arbitration. So it was a disappointment when the 2018 text came out and a country still had the ability to block the appointment of panellists to weigh the evidence when complaints arose.

No longer. Tuesday's changes mean that a panel will automatically be established upon request. A roster of panellists from the three countries is being created, and new rules for the evidence presented in this arbitration process are meant to improve its transparency.

To boil down three decades of trade skepticism: the U.S. labour movement no longer trusts Mexico to live up to the standards NAFTA sets, and unions are sick of seeing jobs go south to factories that get away with doing less for workers. Democrats wanted to ease their minds by having a strong arbitration process in place.

Chrystia Freeland to sign new NAFTA deal with U.S., Mexico

  Chrystia Freeland to sign new NAFTA deal with U.S., Mexico OTTAWA — An agreement has been reached on a North American free trade deal, with all three countries set to sign the agreement today. Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland will take part in a meeting and signing ceremony with U.S. trade czar Robert Lighthizer and their Mexican counterpart, Jesus Seade, in Mexico City this afternoon. U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in Washington this morning that congressional Democrats were supportive of the changes, which paves the way for implementing legislation to finally be tabled in Congress.

US, Canada and Mexico discuss changes to free trade agreement . 'Vast improvement' on original deal. House Democrats and US labor leaders Read more: US- Canada trade-off: Who is happiest with NAFTA 2 .0? Impeachment charges. Finalizing USMCA would be a major victory for US President

Pact was agreed more than a year ago but Democrats insisted on major changes to improve enforcement of worker rights.

That's why on top of this Chapter 31 fix, new "bilateral mechanisms" between Canada and Mexico, and the U.S. and Mexico, will provide a "facility-specific, rapid-response mechanism" to ensure Mexican companies that enjoy NAFTA benefits (such as tariff-free goods) comply with the new higher labour standards, such as employees' rights to collective bargaining. If an investigation finds flaws, exports from those plants could face penalties.

The Americans are going so far as to add new "labour attachés" and "environment attachés" to their diplomatic teams in Mexico, to keep watch.

In a perfect world, every country will comply and disputes will never arise. Since no one trades in a perfect world, having arbitration that works was key to ratification proceeding in Washington.

New environmental obligations

Both the labour and environment chapters are being adjusted to shift the burden of proof from the accuser to the violator: when standards aren't met, this will now be presumed to be affecting trade or investment unless a country can prove otherwise.

Winners and losers in the final USMCA deal

  Winners and losers in the final USMCA deal President Trump finally gets a major win on trade as Democrats, labor, Canada and Mexico give thumbs up on a new North American trade agreement. But there are a lot more winners. Nearly everyone is claiming it’s a political and economic victory for them. Democrats give it a thumbs up. Some union leaders give it a thumbs up. So do Mexican and Canadian officials. Many business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable and the Farm Bureau, are also applauding it.

It aims to drive innovation and growth by increasing technology development and adoption to ensure Canadian businesses are competitive in the global low-carbon economy. It also includes actions to advance climate change adaptation and build resilience to climate impacts across the country.

US, Canada and Mexico discuss changes to free trade agreement . 'Vast improvement' on original deal. House Democrats and US labor leaders Read more: US- Canada trade-off: Who is happiest with NAFTA 2 .0? Impeachment charges. Finalizing USMCA would be a major victory for US President

Seven multilateral environmental agreements are also being written directly into the free-trade agreement's obligations. Canada is a signatory to five of them:

  • The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
  • The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.
  • The Protocol of 1978 Relating to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships.
  • The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance Especially as Waterfowl Habitat.
  • The Convention for the Establishment of an Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission.

Canada is not required to ratify two others to which it has not previously signed on — the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources and the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling.

Drug protections: now status quo

According to the deal signed a year ago, Canada was required to change its intellectual property laws to provide ten years of data protection, up from eight years, for biologics: a specific class of pharmaceutical drugs that shows great promise but also sells at high prices.

The extension essentially meant drug companies would be able to sell their biologics in Canada for a full decade, delaying the entry of cheaper generics by two years.

U.S., Mexico, Canada Sign Changes to Free-Trade Agreement

  U.S., Mexico, Canada Sign Changes to Free-Trade Agreement The U.S., Mexico and Canada on Tuesday signed amendments to a free-trade agreement they first reached more than a year ago, paving the way for the three countries’ legislatures to ratify the deal. The move came after House Democrats embraced the overhaul of the North American Free Trade Agreement, with Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying the revised deal is better for American workers.The AFL-CIO, the largest labor federation in the U.S., endorsed the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, known as the USMCA.

30 and leave Canada behind, the two negotiators with vastly different backgrounds, approaches and He has slapped steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada , claiming their metal imports threaten the She is known for bicycling to events and slipping into bathrooms to change out of her cycling gear before

“The Council of Canadians vigorously opposed NAFTA and its predecessor, the Canada -U.S. In particular, she lays out Canadian progressive trade proposals. “Progressive voices in Canada that have been highly critical of NAFTA as a tool for corporate interests find ourselves somewhat caught.

No longer. Democrats successfully struck this part of the deal. (Republican senators who normally go to bat for the pharmaceutical industry may have more to say on this, but that battle lies ahead for now.)

At present, the data protection period will continue to be eight years, meaning no new drug costs (potentially tens or hundreds of millions, though the research is debatable) will be directly caused by the new trade agreement, as some provinces and patient advocates had feared.

Other new measures, including ones that allowed companies to obtain patents for new uses of existing drugs, were also walked back.

The efforts of Democrats to strike this part of the deal were probably helped by U.S. President Donald Trump's emerging concern for lowering drug prices. Some Democratic presidential contenders have talked tough about bringing down drug prices as well.

Another steel demand

The 2018 NAFTA rewrite required 70 per cent of the steel that automakers purchase to come from North America. If they don't comply, tariffs could apply to the vehicles they're exporting.

Chrystia Freeland in a red shirt and smiling at the camera: Freeland called the changes that congressional Democrats negotiated with Donald Trump's trade representative a © Provided by cbc.ca Freeland called the changes that congressional Democrats negotiated with Donald Trump's trade representative a

Late in the negotiations, the Mexicans were asked to accept a new definition of North American steel as having to be "melted and poured" in North America. This proved contentious, because steel is manufactured in a variety of ways, and not all inputs originate domestically.

In the end, according to the Canadian government's document, the only further change to the steel or aluminum requirements in the automotive chapter is "to clarify that all steel manufacturing processes must occur in one or more of the [countries], except for metallurgical processes involving the refinement of steel additives, for purposes of meeting the 70 per cent requirement."

The Democrats' summary of the changes didn't mention anything about this at all.

Also, neither summary mentioned digital chapter changes reported by some media outlets late in the negotiations.

Whenever the final text is released, lawyers and businesses will pounce on the fine print to make sure no other surprises await.

NDP wants regular reviews of new North American trade deal .
NDP wants regular reviews of new North American trade dealThe requests are in a letter from NDP trade critic Daniel Blaikie to Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, who last week signed a revised version of the Canada-U.S.-Mexico deal that must now be formally approved by Parliament before taking effect.

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