House Democrat leaders and the White House have tentatively announced an agreement regarding the passage of the sweeping United States-Mexico-Canada trade pact.
That document is designed to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement, the final results of which were presented to the legislative branches of the U.S., Mexico, and Canada earlier this year after months of negotiations.
The White House has indicated that it will sign off on a series of adjustments to the document negotiated between Congressional leaders and the U.S. Trade Representative’s office.
The modifications to the new trade agreement will particularly provide stronger provisions on labor matters and overall enforcement.
“The urgency of replacing NAFTA is very important,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in remarks delivered before a chief executive officer council meeting sponsored by the Wall Street Journal.
The Speaker also said she was not worried about the USMCA winning the entire support of the Democratic members of the House. “You don’t have to have unanimity, you just have to have consensus,” she remarked.
What is being called a “handshake deal” between the House leadership and the White House has won the praise of Thomas Donahue, chief executive officer of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, who expressed optimism that “this development will open the door to the final approval of USMCA on a bipartisan basis by the end of the year.”
Dennis Slater, president of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, issued a statement calling the White House/Congress deal “good news for equipment manufacturers, the 1.3 million men and women of our industry, and the entire U.S. economy.”
Kathy Krafka Harkema, regulatory affairs manager with the American Architectural Manufacturers Association, noted that the new trade agreement will “strengthen intellectual property rights provisions and copyright privileges, while also addressing modern digital technology aspects of trade.”
Congressional observers think it is more likely that the House will pass USMCA by the end of this month, with the Senate taking it up and passing it in January.
The USMCA, which will govern a wide range of construction materials and supplies, will have a lifespan of 16 years, although all three countries will have the prerogative of reviewing the agreement after 6 years.
By Garry Boulard
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