Jan. 29 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump signed the new North American trade deal Wednesday in a ceremony that excluded Democrats involved in the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.
About 400 farmers, union representatives and company CEOs attended the event on the South Lawn of the White House. House Democrats who were instrumental in obtaining broad bipartisan support to secure the agreement were absent.
The trade deal between the United States, Mexico and Canada is a revision of the North American Free Trade Agreement of 1994. Although Trump referred to NAFTA as a "nightmare" in his remarks and made its obsolescence a key element in his 2016 presidential campaign, the new agreement differs little from its predecessor.
Economists have noted that the USMCA law offers few new benefits to the U.S. manufacturing sector. Trump has predicted that it will improve U.S. economic growth by 1.2 percent, generate $68 billion in new economic activity and create 176,000 new jobs.
Under the law, higher automotive rules-of-origin requirements will increase the percentage of parts from North America in new cars, and financial incentives for automakers to build cars in Mexico will be reduced. It also increases intellectual property protections and opens Canada as a market for U.S. dairy products.
The three countries reached an original agreement in 2018 but it required a year of Congressional negotiations with the White House to reach a bill that could pass both houses of the U.S. Congress. Mexico has already ratified the law, and ratification in Canada is pending.