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Regional Trade Agreements on the rise – but what’s in store for Canada?

2018 has surely been a year of both exciting and positive developments in the regional trade scene. First, the AfCFTA (or the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement) that strives to enhance the intra-Africa trade was signed in March 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda. This has been a major development within the African region, as 18 countries have already ratified the agreement, while 49 other countries are in line to have their signatures included.

Further, in November 2018, the United States, Canada and Mexico announced their agreement under a new name – the United States, Mexico and Canada Agreement (USMCA), which came with a myriad of developments, such as changes for automakers, labour, environmental standards and some digital trade provisions. The renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is an important development within the North American region and will account for more than $1.2 trillion in . Moreover, this agreement also exemplifies how US President Donald Trump kept one of his major trade policy promises.

Finally, the EU and Japan signed the Economic Partnership Agreement as well as the EU-Japan Strategic Partnership Agreement, which is set to come into effect in February 2019. This agreement is extremely crucial as it is the first agreement to make direct and explicit reference to the Paris Climate Change agreement that was signed in 2015. With so many regional agreements materializing, it will be interesting to see what the year ahead holds in terms of further diversifying Canada’s trade portfolio.

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