US, Mexico and Canada finalize trade deal

The United States, Mexico and Canada signed a deal Tuesday to finalize their new trade agreement, paving the way to ratification after more than two years of arduous negotiations.

According to AFP, US trade representative Robert Lighthizer signed the annex to the deal in Mexico City along with Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland and Mexico’s top negotiator on the accord, Jesus Seade.

Senior Trump Advisor Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, also attended.

For the second time, the United States, Mexico and Canada have triumphantly announced the conclusion of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the deal meant to replace the 25-year-old Nafta, which president Donald Trump complains has been “a disaster” for the US

First signed in November 2018, USMCA got bogged down in political complications, particularly in the United States, where opposition Democrats questioned whether it would really force Mexico to deliver on labor reforms meant to level the playing field between Mexican and American workers.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who presided over the signing ceremony, said the deal “will benefit both Mexican and American workers.” he hailed it as a “driver of growth” for all three countries’ economies.

Lopez Obrador firmly rejected the initial US proposal for labor inspections, and the deal seemed likely to get mixed up in trump’s impeachment drama and 2020 re-election bid.

Mexico emphasized that there would be no American “inspectors” visiting Mexican factories or businesses, but rather panels of “independent labor experts” which Mexico would help to choose.

But another year of talks produced a series of additions — notably including tougher enforcement of labor provisions — that won the blessing of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the key democrat needed to move the agreement forward, as well as the largest us labor federation, the AFL-CIO.

The final deal, which must now be ratified in all three countries’ legislatures, will replace the 1994 North American free trade agreement, the historic pact that erased nearly all tariffs across the region, deeply integrated its economies and helped turn Mexico into an export powerhouse.

Under Nafta, the region — which represents close to 30% of the global economy and is home to nearly 500 million people — did $1.2 trillion in a trade last year.

Analysts say USMCA is similar to Nafta in many respects, but there is improved access for us agricultural goods, including dairy products, which Canada, in particular, had tried to limit.

It includes rules designed to improve us auto workers’ competitiveness, requiring 40% of each duty-free car to be made by people earning at least $16 an hour.

Besides labor enforcement rules, the additions signed Tuesday include tougher measures to monitor environmental provisions and remove the requirement for the countries to provide at least 10 years of exclusivity for biologic drugs, which blocks cheaper generic versions.

The path to ratification now looks clear in all three countries.

However, the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump in the US Senate would likely delay congressional ratification of the agreement until next year, said Senate Majority Leader Mitch Mcconnell.

Equity Group’s Dr.
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