Out with the old, in with the new...
Just hours before the end-of-month deadline, US trade rep Robert Lighthizer and Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland announced last night that Canada and the US had successfully agreed on a sweeping revision of the Nafta trade accord (an agreement that had been reached with Mexico's outgoing PRI government weeks ago), maneuvering the final leg of the new trilateral deal, which will henceforth be known as the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA, into place. The US heralded the deal by proclaiming that it would mean "freer markets, fairer trade and robust economic growth." After both President Trump and Canadian Prime Minister reportedly approved the agreement, markets rejoiced, sparking rallies in the loonie, Mexican peso and US stock futures.
The preliminary terms reflected a resolution of the dairy-market problem, which had proved to be an intractable point of contention, with Canada offering access to roughly 3.5% of domestic dairy market to the US and will agree to a vehicle export quota of 2.6 million vehicles that could be exported to the US tariff free or near tariff free. Meanwhile, as reported previously, the Chapter 19 dispute resolution process - something that Canada demanded be preserved in the final accord - will remain unchanged.
Given that, in the Trump era, nothing is done until it's done, Trump lauded the agreement on Twitter Monday morning, saying it would correct "deficiencies and mistakes in NAFTA, greatly opens markets to our Farmers and Manufacturers, reduces Trade Barriers to the U.S. and will bring all three Great Nations together in competition with the rest of the world."
Late last night, our deadline, we reached a wonderful new Trade Deal with Canada, to be added into the deal already reached with Mexico. The new name will be The United States Mexico Canada Agreement, or USMCA. It is a great deal for all three countries, solves the many......— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 1, 2018
....deficiencies and mistakes in NAFTA, greatly opens markets to our Farmers and Manufacturers, reduces Trade Barriers to the U.S. and will bring all three Great Nations together in competition with the rest of the world. The USMCA is a historic transaction!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 1, 2018
Congratulations to Mexico and Canada!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 1, 2018
To be sure, Congress must still approve the deal, which they are widely expected to do now that Canada has been brought on board. According to media reports, lawmakers would have resisted any deal that didn't involve Canada. But with markets rejoicing on the news, we can't help but wonder how much longer the resolution of this trade dispute will keep stocks elevated when a full blown US-China trade war is increasingly being factored into "baseline" expectations.