Washington — Manufacturing and business groups welcomed the 30 September announcement that Canada will join Mexico and the US in a revised North American Free Trade Agreement. They cautioned they wanted to assess the full details.
Canada joins USMCA, the revamped NAFTA
Manufacturing groups, including plastics and chemicals trade associations, had been pushing for Canada to be included, after the US and Mexico reached a tentative deal on 27 August 2018. At that time it was unclear at the time whether Canada would join.
Bill Carteaux, president and CEO of the US Plastics Industry Association, welcomed Canada’s decision and said the group wanted to review the new pact.
The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement needs close study said the American Chemistry Council . But the Association said it a step in the right direction.
The ACC noted that the deal appears to include some long-sought enhancements by the chemical industry. These include adopting regulatory principles jointly pushed by the North American chemical sector.
ACC said that duty-free exports to Mexico and Canada support 46,000 chemical sector jobs. It added that US chemical exports have more than tripled within NAFTA. In 1994 they were valued at $13 bn so far this year they are worth $44 bn.
The US National Association of Manufacturers said the agreement was a positive move.
'Manufacturers are extremely encouraged that our call for a trilateral agreement between the United States, Canada and Mexico has been answered,' said NAM President Jay Timmons. 'Today, there’s a massive amount of goods flowing across North America. Our countries’ economies are inextricably linked.'
Washington-based NAM said a united trade bloc would help the three countries better address China’s 'cheating and unfair trade practices,' although it cautioned it wanted to review details of the pact.
'As we review the agreement, we will be looking to ensure that this deal opens markets, raises standards, provides enforcement and modernises trade rules so that manufacturers across the United States can grow our economy,' NAM said.
Similarly, the Washington-based Business Roundtable said having all three countries is 'critical for North American supply chains.' The group noted the need to assess the full text of the agreement.
The agreement must still be ratified by all three countries' governments. A statement from the US Trade Representative noted NAFTA remains in effect until that happens.
The US statement said the agreement will 'create a more level playing field for American workers'. It will provide for improved rules of origin on automobiles, trucks and other products. [It will] modernise agricultural trade and better protect intellectual property. There are new chapters on digital trade, anticorruption, regulatory practices and provisions for SMEs.
'When finalised and implemented, the agreement will create more balanced, reciprocal trade. It will support high-paying jobs for Americans and grows the economy,' the USTR said.
In a White House news conference, President Trump defended his trade negotiation strategy. He said tariff threats are bringing other countries to the negotiating table.
'Just for those babies that keep talking about tariffs, that includes Congress, oh please don’t charge tariffs, without tariffs we wouldn’t be standing here,' Trump said.
US Trade Representatives Robert Lighthiser said he believed the agreement would 'bring back jobs to America.'
'The USMCA will accelerate the manufacturing renaissance our country has enjoyed under President Trump,' he said.
By Steve Toloken. This article which first appeared in Plastics News.