Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday welcomed the new trade agreement reached in extremis the day before between Ottawa, Washington and Mexico , which will be “totally beneficial” for Canadians according to him.
“This is an agreement that will be totally beneficial for our economy, for Canadian families and for the middle class,” Trudeau told a news conference in Ottawa.
After a last weekend of intense talks between Canadian and US negotiators, Ottawa and Washington finally announced an agreement in extremis Sunday night, 30 minutes before the deadline imposed by the Trump administration. “It’s a great day for Canada,” said a smiling Prime Minister.
Earlier on Monday, Donald Trump said it was the “most important deal in American history . “
The details of the “United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (SCMUS), which replaces the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), were released Sunday night.
Breach in supply management
As the dairy sector feared, Ottawa agreed to relax its system of protection for farmers and milk producers by opening more than 3% of its market to US producers. The federal government will “pay Canadian dairy farmers for all related losses,” said a senior Canadian official.
In return, Washington agrees to maintain the commercial arbitration system, one of the main stumbling blocks of the 13-month NAFTA renegotiations.
Insufficient, immediately responded the milk producers. “Our government assured us, however, that it would not sign an agreement that would be bad for Canadians. We do not see how this agreement can be good for the 220,000 Canadian families who depend on the dairy industry for a living, “said Pierre Lampron, president of the Canadian Producers Association, in a statement.
Producers “are nothing more than a bargaining chip to satisfy President Trump,” he lamented.
Trudeau saved the furniture
For its part, the president of Unifor, the first private sector union in Canada, well established in the automotive sector, echoed the Prime Minister by hailing “a great day for Canadians.”
“I’m really pleased that we’ve been able to put in place a format that will lead to investments in Canada, investments that are ongoing, but just as importantly, that will rid us of this terrible 25% tariff threat. Donald Trump’s administration threatened to impose on us “for lack of an agreement, Jerry Dias said.
For Justin Trudeau, the deadline of September 30 imposed by Donald Trump fell badly: the Prime Minister finds himself obliged to defend his agreement the same day when the voters of Quebec are called to the polls. They must renew their MLAs and their government.
Quebec alone accounts for half of Canada’s milk production. And the main candidates for the Quebec election – including Prime Minister Couillard, from the same political family as Mr. Trudeau – have all promised to support their dairy farmers.
“The worst happened,” Jean-François Lisée immediately responded. “It’s been weeks or even months since I told you that Canada’s bargaining chip when it wants to get something for the rest of the country is Quebec, Quebec agriculture and specifically our dairy farms.”
Can this timing coincide with the vote?
“I do not think so,” says AFP Louis Bélanger, director of the Institute of Advanced International Studies at Laval University in Quebec City. “There are very few people who will vote on this issue there.”
According to him, Justin Trudeau should not suffer in the long run of this agreement, which allowed him to “save the furniture” to one year of the federal legislative elections.
“Since he did not give in on the big issues and he also seems to have had a negotiating strategy that worked, I do not think he will pay a price for all this,” says Bélanger. “From the perspective of the Canadian electorate, the current situation is caused by the US administration and I think that Justin Trudeau will be recognized for saving the furniture and I do not see how he could suffer from this agreement.”