November 30, 2018 5:50 pm
Updated: November 30, 2018 6:42 pm

Quebec cautiously embraces signing of USMCA

WATCH: Canada, the U.S. and Mexico have all signed a new free trade agreement. The Prime Minister says the new deal ensures the stability of millions of jobs for middle-class families. Quebec isn't so optimistic. As Raquel Fletcher reports, the province's economy minister says there's still more negotiating to do.

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Together at the G20 summit in Argentina, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, U.S. President Donald Trump and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto formally signed the United States-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) agreement.

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Quebec’s economy minister said he is concerned about the impact the new NAFTA deal will have on dairy producers and steel and aluminum workers in this province.

“I’m very concerned about that. On the other hand, I think the signature of the accord is a good thing for Quebec because we’re taking away uncertainty in terms of economic and commercial trade,” said Minister of Economy and Innovation Pierre Fitzgibbon.

READ MORE: Quebec dairy farmers claim USMCA spells disaster for their industry

The new deal imposes U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum and it allows U.S. dairy and poultry farmers access to 3.6 per cent of Canada’s closely guarded supply management market, something the Quebec premier says is “disappointing.”

During Friday’s question period, Premier François Legault said that Quebec’s dairy farmers “were sacrificed,” but he added, the Canadian government promised compensation.

The Parti Quebecois was not satisfied and said that the province should oppose the agreement.

However, the minister said there’s still time to negotiate a better deal.

“Our bargaining power has not diminished because we’ve signed the accord,” Fitzgibbon said.

That’s because Canada has imposed counter-tariffs on American steel and aluminum.

“So I’m very confident that the pressure that both sides of the border will put on the different governments is such that we can have a happy conclusion,” he said.

READ MORE: Growing number of U.S. corporate giants warn Trump’s tariffs means higher prices

The agreement still needs to be ratified by all three countries. In the meantime, a new Mexican president will take over this weekend. And a new U.S. Congress will be sworn in sometime in the early new year.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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