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United States, Canada and Mexico signed a North American trade pact

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Beuonos Aires. The United States, Canada and Mexico signed a North American trade pact on Friday, with President Donald Trump brushing aside concerns that he could face difficulties getting the deal through the U.S. Congress.

The leaders of the three countries agreed on a deal in principle to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which governs more than $1.2 trillion of mutual trade, after acrimonious negotiations concluded on Sept. 30.

Friday’s signing potentially ends a big source of irritation for the U.S. administration as it pivots to a much bigger trade fight with China that threatens the global economy. All eyes are on a meeting between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday after a G20 summit in Buenos Aires.

Trump had vowed to revamp NAFTA during his 2016 presidential election campaign. He threatened to tear it up and withdraw the United States completely at times during the negotiation, which would have left trade between the three neighbours in disarray.

The three were still bickering over the finer points of the deal just hours before officials were due to sit down and sign it.

“It’s been long and hard. We’ve taken a lot of barbs and a little abuse and we got there,” Trump said after the signing.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau still had a few barbs of his own on Friday. He called the deal by its old name NAFTA, prodded Trump over U.S. steel and aluminium tariffs, and said General Motors Co’s decision to cut production and slash its North American workforce, including in Canada, was a “heavy blow.”

“Donald, it’s all the more reason why we need to keep working to remove the tariffs on steel and aluminium between our two countries,” Trudeau said.

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