MEXICO CITY – Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s administration plans to present the Senate on Thursday with the official request for ratification of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).
“(The agreement) is in our interest and it’s magnificent for getting more foreign investment and stimulating business participation (in the economy),” Lopez Obrador said during his daily press conference at the National Palace.
The president, who was accompanied by several Cabinet members, said his administration would ask the upper house of Congress, “in a respectful way” and recognizing “its independence,” to ratify the trade pact.
The USMCA is an updated version of the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) among Canada, Mexico and the United States.
Lopez Obrador, popularly known as AMLO, said he hoped Senate leaders would call a special session soon to ratify the trade deal on the part of Mexico, which sends nearly 85 percent of its exports to its northern neighbors.
Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard, Economy Secretary Graciela Marquez, Foreign Relations Undersecretary for North America Jesus Seade and federal executive branch legal counsel Julio Scherer plan to go to the Senate later in the day to present the administration’s request.
AMLO said he was confident that the Senate would approve the USMCA, noting that the trade deal would create “good paying jobs in the country.”
Marquez, for her part, said the USMCA would boost manufacturing and noted that the “trade flows” among Mexico, Canada and the United States totaled around $1.2 trillion, making North America “one of the most important trade areas on the planet.”
The economy secretary said that having a trilateral trade pact would provide “certainty and certitude,” which are essential for attracting investment.
The negotiations to update NAFTA started in August 2017 and were a response to President Donald Trump’s arrival at the White House.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump called NAFTA the “worst trade deal” in US history and vowed to renegotiate the pact or scrap it.
On Nov. 30, an agreement was reached and the ratification process started.
On May 17, Trump confirmed that his administration had reached an agreement with Mexico and Canada to eliminate US tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum from those countries.
Mexico reciprocated on May 20, ending the tariffs imposed on US products last year.
Canada and Mexico expected the tariffs would be lifted before the USMCA was signed late last year, but Washington’s refusal to do so became an obstacle to the trade deal’s ratification by the three nation’s legislatures.
The road to ratification of the trade deal in the US may have become smoother after Mexico enacted a labor-law overhaul on May 1 demanded by the opposition Democrats in the US House of Representatives.
But the House has not yet scheduled a vote on the USMCA.