Mexico’s Senate overwhelmingly voted for a broad rewrite of trade rules between the United States, Canada and Mexico—making the nation the first of the three partners to ratify the pact designed to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Senators voted 114-4 to ratify the accord—rebranded as the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA—which was signed last November by the heads of state of the three countries.
President Donald Trump praised Mexico for ratifying the pact, adding in a tweet: “Time for Congress to do the same here!” U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer called Mexico’s ratification of the agreement a “crucial step forward.”
Both Canada and Mexico began seeking legislative approval in late May after settling a dispute with the U.S. over steel and aluminum tariffs. The biggest hurdles are expected to come from the U.S. Congress.
To comply with labor provisions in the trade deal, Mexico passed landmark legislation that empowers labor unions to bargain more effectively on behalf of workers and gives workers the right to elect union leaders in direct elections with secret ballots, among other pro-labor changes.
Lighthizer, backed by U.S. business groups, has sought to hammer out a deal with Congress quickly—one which could allow some changes to North American trade policy through the U.S. legislation that implements the trade pact. But he added that he doesn’t think the text of the agreement with Canada and Mexico needs to be altered.
“Getting this done sooner rather than later is in everybody’s interest,” Lighthizer told lawmakers.
Canada hasn’t indicated when it expects to vote on ratification, although Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said it would be in conjunction with the U.S.
Source: Wall Street Journal