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Long IslandColumnistsDan Janison

Hype and pomp aside, trade pact authors vow substance

President Donald Trump speaks Monday during a news

President Donald Trump speaks Monday during a news conference on the new trade deal in the White House Rose Garden. Credit: AP/Evan Vucci

President Donald Trump undoubtedly would call any trade deal involving himself great, transformative, historic and unsurpassed.

He'd also give it a new acronym to make it sound totally different from whatever preceded it and complain about Democrats.

Trump did all three Monday.

But beyond the bombast, early reviews from stakeholders in the revised North American pact were positive.

Late Sunday, officials announced that Canada reached agreement on hard-fought changes with the U.S. The first achievement is that the deal was even reached, preserving the three-nation bloc formed by the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Markets celebrated by posting gains.

The agreement between the U.S. and Mexico is advertised as requiring a greater share of automobiles and other vehicles to be made in North America and with labor paid at a higher rate.

There also are new rules for financial-services and digital businesses that didn't exist in 1994, when NAFTA was first signed.

As always, many practical concerns lie ahead.

The clash over aluminum and steel tariffs remains unresolved.

Also, Trump noted that the Congress will need to ratify it, adding that “anything you send to Congress is trouble.”

The terms of the deal would presumably go to the lawmakers at the end of next month.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, one of the actual authors of the deal, predicted approval “with a substantial majority.”

“There are no poison pills for Democrats,” he told reporters after Trump spoke, citing labor and environmental details still to be elaborated on.

Trade politics could, of course, shift in some ways if the GOP loses either or both houses in the upcoming midterm elections.

For the moment, the Democratic line sounded noncommital.

“I will be carefully reviewing the new draft agreement released last night to ensure that American workers will see higher wages and have access to new economic opportunities," said Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) on Monday. He also cited a need to review environmental protections and enforcement.

Canada has agreed to provide U.S. dairy farmers with access to about 3.5 percent of its approximately $16 billion annual domestic dairy market, Canadian officials said.

The administration is rebranding NAFTA as the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. How much is in the name remains to be seen.


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