Trade Pact Is Signed at G-20, but Rift Remains for Trump and Trudeau

He has called Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada “very dishonest and weak.”

He has also, perhaps jokingly, accused Canada — which came into formal being in 1867 — of burning down the White House during the War of 1812.

But on Friday morning, President Trump, Mr. Trudeau and Mexico’s president, Enrique Peña Nieto, signed a North American trade pact after 14 months of acrimonious negotiations.

The leaders of the United States and Canada appeared cordial — Mr. Trudeau even addressed his counterpart as “Donald” — even though their words and body language in recent months have suggested that their once-warm rapport had become as icy as a Canadian winter.

Speaking at the Group of 20 meeting in Buenos Aires, with Mr. Trudeau and Mr. Peña Nieto on either side of him, Mr. Trump acknowledged that the road to a deal had been difficult.

“We’ve taken a lot of barbs and a little abuse,” he said.

Turning to Mr. Trudeau, whom he referred to as a “great friend,” he said, “It’s been a battle.” But battles, he added, sometimes make “great friendships.”

Mr. Trudeau smiled politely.

Despite the smiling, disagreements remain between the two leaders.

In his remarks, Mr. Trudeau urged Mr. Trump to remove punishing tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum from Canada, saying they imposed a “major obstacle” on the Canadian economy.

As Mr. Trudeau spoke, Mr. Trump appeared stone-faced, but broke into a pensive smile at one point. When Mr. Trudeau ended his comments, the American president shook his hand with a brevity that contrasted with his usual vigorous greetings.

[Read more about the signing and the acrimonious talks that led to it.]

Some in the Canadian news media presented the deal as a sign that, at least for now, a full-on trade skirmish had ended.

“ ‘Battle’ over as Trudeau, Trump, Peña Nieto sign ‘new Nafta,’” said a headline from the CBC, the national broadcaster.

Yet the article noted that Canada had been “reluctant to have a celebratory signing of a free trade deal marred by tariffs that suggest anything but true free trade.”

In negotiating what was once the North American Free Trade Agreement and is now known as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, Canada won concessions including a dispute resolution system for companies that feel unfairly targeted with taxes.

It will also receive exemptions from any future American tariffs on 2.6 million imported passenger vehicles.

In return, Canada agreed to, among other things, Mr. Trump’s repeated demands that it crack open its long-protected dairy market.

But the brinkmanship leading up to the agreement was bruising and the metals tariffs remain in place, severely testing the relationship between Canada and its biggest and most important trading partner.

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In June, after Mr. Trudeau ended a two-day Group of 7 summit meeting in Charlevoix, Quebec, by saying Canadians “are nice” but wouldn’t be “bullied on trade,” Mr. Trump responded on Air Force One by accusing him of being feeble and making false statements.

Just in case the message wasn’t clear, Peter Navarro, the director of the White House trade office, suggested on Fox News Sunday that there was “a special place in hell” for Mr. Trudeau.

Canadians were irate. Mr. Trudeau, who has attracted adulation on the global stage, is a sometimes polarizing figure at home and he faces an election next year.

But Mr. Trump’s barrage of insults momentarily united most Canadians behind him, and his approval ratings jumped.

Some Canadians even canceled summer vacations in Maine or California and boycotted American products like Twizzlers. Others insisted on using Canadian-produced kidney beans to make “Trump-free chilli.”

Senior Canadian officials said privately that in the negotiations, Mr. Trudeau had not been swayed by Mr. Trump’s insults, feeling confident that Canada’s view of an open, multilateral world order was the right path forward.

Across the country and in the corridors of Ottawa, there was quiet satisfaction that self-effacing Canada had stood up to Mr. Trump, and had not allowed itself to be pushed around.

Internationally, Mr. Trudeau and Mr. Trump have become foils for one another.

Mr. Trudeau is a telegenic figure who speaks carefully and espouses liberal internationalism, women’s rights, the benefits of immigration and the fight against climate change.

Mr. Trump, whose own aides are often caught off guard by his brash, unpredictable remarks, advocates putting “America first,” has attacked women by insulting their looks, disparages migrants and has sought to undermine international accords to fight global warming.

Even their contrasting reactions to bad weather have gained the world’s attention.

This month, Mr. Trump drew criticism after deciding not to visit a World War I cemetery because of poor weather during a trip to France to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of the war.

Soon, a video of Mr. Trudeau braving the pouring rain during an August 2017 commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the Dieppe raid in World War II was shared widely on Twitter.

Many Canadians regard Mr. Trump as a bully, a perception that intensified after the American leader imposed the steel and aluminum tariffs in May.

Mr. Trump framed the move as necessary for national security, prompting Canada’s foreign minister, Chrystia Freeland, to retort that “the national security pretext is absurd and frankly insulting to Canadians.”

Canada retaliated with import duties on $12.6 billion of American products, including ballpoint pens and industrial pipes.

Days before the new pact was to be signed, the Canadian government had not posted a version of it on its website while the Americans had made the agreement public.

Canadian officials said a team of lawyers had been “scrubbing the deal” assiduously to make sure that it matched what had been agreed to.

But they emphasized that this was not surprising, given that it usually took a year for lawyers to go through hefty trade deals, and in this case, they had only had two months.

Among the areas getting the most scrutiny were concessions over Canada’s protection of its dairy market, including reducing barriers for American farmers to sell cheese, milk and other products to Canada.

Canada’s protection of its dairy products had been a favorite punching bag of Mr. Trump. Alluding to the policy in a tweet in June, he wrote: “Tax Dairy from us at 270%. Then Justin acts hurt when called out!”

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