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Washington (AFP) - President Donald Trump on Monday hailed the 11th-hour trade deal struck between the United States, Mexico and Canada to replace the quarter-century old NAFTA accord, calling it the biggest in US history.
Known as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the deal agreed ahead of a midnight deadline Sunday will replace the North American Free Trade Agreement, which Trump had denounced as a "disaster."
"The agreement will govern nearly 1.2 trillion (dollars) in trade, which makes it the biggest trade deal in the United States history," Trump told a news conference in the White House Rose Garden.
Calling the new accord "truly historic news for our nation -- and indeed, for the world," the US leader said he hoped to sign it by the end of November, along with Canada's Justin Trudeau and the outgoing Mexican leader Enrique Pena Nieto, who leaves office on December 1.
Trump acknowledged that tensions had spiked with the Canadian premier over the fraught negotiations -- but insisted there was no bad blood between them.
"There was a lot of tension between he and I and more specifically," Trump said. "It's all worked out. You know when it ended? About 12 last night.
"He's a good man and he loves the people of Canada."
The new trade accord still requires approval by lawmakers in all three NAFTA signatory countries to come into force.
Trump -- whose Republicans risk major losses in Congressional elections in November -- insisted he had "other alternatives" should lawmakers block the deal.
"The Republicans love it. Industry loves it. Our country loves it. If it's fair, it will pass easily. It's a great deal," he said.
The new trade deal was struck after more than a year of tough negotiations to revamp a 24-year-old continental trade pact Trump had labeled a disaster.
In the end, both Canada and the United States conceded some ground to reach a deal covering a region of 500 million inhabitants and which conducts about $1 trillion in trade a year.
Talking up the new accord -- and summing up his attitude to global trade -- Trump declared it a "privilege" for foreign powers to do business with the United States.
"And I'm not talking about Mexico, Canada. I'm talking about everybody. Everybody," he said. "It's a privilege for China to do business with us. It's a privilege for the European Union, who has treated us very badly, but that's coming along."
Pointing to his combative attitude towards China -- with which the United States is engaged in an escalating trade war -- Trump said his strategy was bearing fruit and that "China wants to talk very badly."
Likewise, he claimed that India -- which he described as the "tariff king" -- wants to start trade talks with the United States "immediately."