President Donald Trump, Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, right, and Mexico's President Enrique Pena Neto, left, participate in the USMCA signing ceremony, Friday, Nov. 30, 2018 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Trump signed the agreement with the LGBT provisions intact even though a group of 38 House Republicans led by Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) urged him to seek removal of that language, insisting the agreement "is no place for the adoption of social policy".
The three countries sealed the new trade accord a day before Trump is to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping to discuss a possible truce in their tit-for-tat trade war. "It's great for all of our countries".
Canada and Mexico are the second and third-biggest U.S. trading partners, each accounting for more than $500 billion in trade per year, nearly rivaling China and the 28 European Union member states combined.
Trump added that the treaty would promote high wages, citing autoworkers as primary beneficiaries.
For the auto sector, USMCA increases the regional content of tariff-free vehicles and requires that 40 per cent of a car be made by workers earning at least US$16 an hour, a shift that favours USA and Canadian assembly plants over low-wage Mexican assembly lines. "Mexico must also pass and implement its promised labor law changes to raise the wages and working conditions of Mexican workers competing with American workers".
Perhaps its most significant changes are related to the auto industry, for which Trump insisted on new protectionist provisions meant to wrest some manufacturing back from Mexico and overseas. "Many companies are coming back, and we're very excited about that".
There was a question as to if Trudeau would show up to the signing ceremony.
For the new North American trade deal, legislative approval is the next step. A long way lies ahead, however, before the deal could be ratified and is expected to ignite fierce debates in a split U.S. Congress. The European Union also opposes China's recognition as a market economy.
The agreement's intellectual property protection will be "the envy of nations all around the world", said Trump at the signing on the sidelines of the G-20 leaders' summit in Buenos Aires on Friday morning.
The deal 'changes the trade landscape forever, ' Trump said.
Although U.S. school bus manufacturing was not specifically mentioned in comments today, President Trump's statements regarding the automobile manufacturing industry provided some hints on what may apply to the school bus industry.
Pena Nieto, who will handoff to his successor Saturday, said he was honoured to be at the signing on the last day of his administration, saying it is the culmination of a long process "that allow us to overcome differences and to conciliate our visions".
"It is really an incredible way to end a presidency".
"Revamping the new trade agreement was aimed to preserve the view of an integrated North America with the firm belief that together we are stronger and more competitive", he said in remarks translated from Spanish.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was less effusive about the renegotiated pact, but said the USMCA would resolve the threat of "serious economic uncertainty" that "would have gotten more damaging".
"With hard work, good will and determination I'm confident that we will get there", Trudeau said.
But Philip Levy, senior fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and a trade official in Republican President George W. Bush's White House, says: "President Trump has seriously overhyped this agreement".