Concerns over Mexican labor laws may push back a ratification vote in Congress on the recently negotiated United States, Mexico, and Canada trade agreement, otherwise known as USMCA.
In a public statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said any agreement must serve as a “template for trade agreements that will serve us well in the future negotiations.”
Pelosi’s stance has received the backing of Richard Trumka, the president of the American Federation of Labor/Congress and Industrial Organizations, who said the Speaker “wants the same thing we do: an enforceable agreement that actually works for workers.”
The USMCA, designed to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement, was negotiated by trade representatives from all three countries last year with the understanding that the legislatures of those countries would subsequently ratify the deal.
The White House had earlier predicted that Congressional ratification of the USMCA could probably be realized by the end of this year.
But now President Trump has described the effort to ratify the nearly 2,000-page agreement before December 31, as “dead in the water.”
Pelosi has remained more optimistic, remarking of talks between the House leadership and the Office of the United States Trade Representative: “We made progress. I think we’re narrowing our differences.”
Mexico’s Congress of the Union ratified the agreement earlier this summer. Members of the Parliament of Canada are expected to take up the matter when they meet in session beginning on December 5.
The USMCA, which has won the backing of the Associated General Contractors of America, includes updated tariff rate quotas on a wide variety of construction equipment and materials on both the import and export side.
By Garry Boulard
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