MEXICO CITY – Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Wednesday that he expects that the United States Congress will ratify a new trilateral trade deal linking those two countries and Canada by September at the latest.
Lopez Obrador said the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which upon ratification would replace the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), would bolster confidence in Mexico and also help with the immigration situation.
Mexico ratified the USMCA in June, but the agreement still has not been approved by the US or Canada.
Democrats in the US Congress have expressed concerns about the deal, saying in particular that labor, environmental and enforcement provisions need to be strengthened.
“I hope it’s ratified in the United States in September at the latest. I link one thing with the other (migration) because the signing of the treaty, its ratification, will greatly help to boost confidence in Mexico,” the leftist head of state said at the National Palace in Mexico City.
In his morning news conference, Lopez Obrador said ratification of the USMCA would lead to a higher level of investment in Mexico and more economic growth and jobs.
Asked about Mexico’s moves to control the northward flow of migrants, the president said his administration would continue its “same policy of ensuring orderly migration and respecting human rights.”
He also reiterated the need to address the root causes of migration, saying that a lack of employment and wellbeing in source countries have led hundreds of thousands of people – mostly Central Americans – to cross Mexican territory in a bid to start a new life in the US.
Lopez Obrador said an international plan to promote development in Central America was continuing and that he is scheduled to meet with Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez on Saturday in Minatitlan, a city in the eastern Mexican state of Veracruz.
“We’re working on supporting productive activities in Central American countries and we want to support and keep insisting that the United States help there to be more investment so people don’t feel forced to emigrate,” he said.
Lopez Obrador added that a “good relationship” exists between Mexico and the US.
In May, US President Donald Trump threatened to impose escalating tariffs on all Mexican imports in the coming months (up to a level of 25 percent by October) if Mexico did not take aggressive steps to halt illegal immigration.
But he agreed to suspend that threat after a bilateral agreement was reached on June 7, in which Lopez Obrador’s administration vowed to crack down on migrant flows.
The steps taken by Mexico have included deploying a new National Guard force and more immigration agents to that country’s southern border with Guatemala.
This week, Mexico’s government said the number of migrants making their way to the US from Mexico has fallen by 36.2 percent since the June 7 deal was reached.
On July 19, Lopez Obrador received a delegation of US lawmakers at the National Palace to discuss the USMCA ratification process.