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Trilateral NAFTA revamp deal struck

06 October 2018

A senior Trump administration official said the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) as a "great win for the president and a validation for his strategy in the area of global trade".

On intellectual property, cross-border copyrights, trademarks and patents will be enforceable to cut back on knock-offs, plus additional protections for pharmaceutical and agricultural producers. The medicines are among the most costly and innovative on the market and are a major driver of drug spending.

Previously a revised trade deal with Mexico had been announced. Those costs could then get passed on to consumers in the form of higher vehicle prices.

"Of greatest importance for financial markets is the reduced uncertainty that a trilateral agreement poses, particularly for Canada", Goldman economists wrote in a note on Monday. Current U.S. law protects biologic drugs from generic competition for 12 years, but some Democrats, including in the Obama administration, have pushed to lower that to seven years as a way to speed cheaper generics to the market and lower drug spending.

Canada, the United States' No. 2 trading partner, is by far the No. 1 destination for USA exports, and the US market accounts for 75 percent of what Canada sells overseas.

It "decreases USA sovereignty", said Jeff Francer, general counsel for the Association for Accessible Medicines, a lobbying group for generic drug makers.

Mickey Kantor, a former US trade representative who is a partner at the Mayer Brown law firm, praised the negotiators for updating a pact that hadn't been changed in 24 years, to reflect the rise of the digital economy.

Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MPP Bill Walker says he was very pleased that NAFTA did not fall apart, and says we can "breathe an air of relief and move forward with confidence that we have a deal in place".

The US made a deal with Mexico in August, but relations with Canada over the trade pact had become increasingly strained in recent weeks.

Beyond that, there are meaningful changes for the auto industry.

If NAFTA is indeed replaced by the new agreement, which unfortunately is completely unpronounceable as an acronym, it is unlikely that there will be large and dramatic changes to North American trade.

"Calling the new accord "truly historic news for our nation - and indeed, for the world", the United States leader said he hoped to sign it by the end of November".

"Today, the message sent to our passionate, proud and quality-conscious farmers and all the people who work in the dairy sector is clear: they are nothing more than a bargaining chip to satisfy President Trump", added Mr. Lampron.

A number of industry associations have responded so far to share what this new USMCA deal means for the recycling industry.

Speaking in Ottawa, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the deal removed uncertainty, but he conceded that Canada had made some hard compromises.

He said the deal has a "good ring to it", repeating U-S-M-C-A several times.

The deal will preserve a trade dispute mechanism that Canada fought hard to maintain, to protect its lumber industry and other sectors from United States anti-dumping tariffs. The quotas are significantly above existing production volumes in each country, allowing for some export growth.

Trudeau mentioned negotiations with two South American trade blocs on Tuesday as evidence that Canada is actively pursuing trade diversification: one with the Pacific Alliance, which includes Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru, and another with Mercosur, which includes Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.

Mr Trump said the deal was a victory for farmers, auto workers and the USA manufacturing industry: "It means far more American jobs, and these are high-quality jobs".

Trilateral NAFTA revamp deal struck