All political eyes shift to Argentina for G20 summit

If you’re a political or trade junkie, it’s safe to say your eyes will likely be focused on Argentina this week as world leaders gather in Buenos Aires Nov. 29-Dec. 1 for the G20 Summit.

For one thing, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement is expected to take another step forward. All three member nations of the USMCA are expected to sign the deal on the sidelines of the global summit.

The plan has been confirmed by Prime Minster Justin Trudeau and outgoing Mexican Prime Minister Enrique Peña Nieto. Mexico’s new president, Manuel Lopez Obrador, will take office next month.

The 60-day review period of the USMCA, which began Sept. 30 after Canada, Mexico and the United States reached an 11th hour deal, ends Nov. 30.

But signing the UMSCA doesn’t mean smooth sailing for the agreement, which will replace the current North American Free Trade Agreement.

Already there are rumblings from both sides of the congressional aisle, with some Democrats, including from Bill Pascrell, a Democrat from New Jersey, who is in line to chair the powerful ways and means subcommittee on trade.

Pascrell has said changes need to be made to the deal if it is to secure support from Democrats, who will have control of the House of Representatives come January.

But Democrats aren’t the only congressional members who are voicing concerns about the trade pact. Some Republicans are too.

A few weeks ago, more than 40 conservative members of Congress wrote a letter to U.S. President Donald Trump demanding he delete a clause in the USMCA that protects LGBTQ workers from discrimination.

The clause is included as part of the deal’s new gender chapter, which was added at the specific request of the Trudeau government.

Throughout the USMCA negotiations, Canadian officials insisted any agreement needed to include progressive elements, particularly as they pertained to issues around labour, indigenous rights, women’s rights and the environment.

As of press time Nov. 26, Canada had yet to release its version of the USMCA.

The agreement must be ratified by all three member nations before it can come into force.

The signing of the USMCA isn’t the only trade item expected to happen on the sidelines of this week’s G20 meeting.

As a global trade war between the U.S. and China continues to escalate, Trump is set to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The meeting comes after tensions were on full display at the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation gathering earlier this month, where leaders failed to agree on a joint communique for the first time in the group’s history.

Chinese officials have said the hope is that this week’s meeting will help de-escalate the current trade tensions, which have already prompted the International Monetary Fund to downgrade its global trade outlook for the current year and the upcoming year.

In a release Nov. 26, the World Trade Organization published its latest trade indicator findings that warned trade growth is expected to slow further into the fourth quarter of 2018. In particular, the WTO noted agricultural trade of raw material had now fallen to levels that were below trend.

Global trade, the WTO said, remains below trend thanks to a steady decline of export orders and is approaching levels not seen since the 2012 eurozone crisis.

Here at home, the Trudeau government has said it is still interested in pursuing trade discussions with China.

The Canadian government has insisted those efforts will not be stymied by a new clause included in the USMCA that requires member nations to disclose trade talks with “non-market economies,” including China, to their fellow agreement members.

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