Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday November 30, 2018
USMCA signing could be overshadowed by larger divisions between nations at G20
Officials don’t know yet who will sign the pact. And they haven’t said exactly when, or where, it’s going to happen.
But when the G20 summit in Buenos Aires is over, the leaders of Canada, the United States and Mexico are supposed to be coming home with a newly signed trade agreement.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Wednesday his government was “still in discussions” with Washington about the timing and circumstances of the official United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement signing event. At any rate, it may turn out to be a hold-your-nose moment for the Trudeau government, which had hoped to see U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum lifted before signing day.
The chances that the tariffs will even be discussed at the summit, let alone lifted, are so slim that a source tells CBC News that Canada’s ambassador to the U.S. isn’t even going to Argentina.
David MacNaughton has been a key leader for the Canadian trade negotiating team, but he will not be present for the anticipated signing ceremony, or for any sideline talks with the Americans in Buenos Aires.
While the USMCA signing will be big news in Canada when it happens, it’s likely to be overshadowed by the larger global divisions on display at the G20.
The official agenda will see leaders discussing different approaches to sustainable and fair growth for the global economy. But these conversations come at a time when confidence in multilateral institutions is declining.
The Americans have been at the centre of two summits that ended in diplomatic disaster in this year alone.
Most recently, the APEC summit in Papua New Guinea ended without a communique, as trade frustrations between the U.S. and China flared.
In June, the G7 summit in Charlevoix, Quebec ended with President Trump pulling his support for the communique and lashing out at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, calling him “weak.” (Source: CBC)