August 12, 2019

Congressional Democrats Report Progress On USMCA Talks With Trump Administration

According to Politico’s “Morning Trade,” Democrats in Congress and the outgoing Canadian ambassador to the United States are optimistic that the Trump administration and Democrats will be able to reach an agreement that allows Congress to vote on USMCA ratification late this fall, or early this winter.

Politico reports that an aide to a Democratic lawmaker involved in the discussions said the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) is “being responsive” to the party’s concerns about the labor and environmental provisions in the deal. The aide told Politico USTR and Democratic staff have been talking a lot over the past two weeks, and “there’s been a lot of phone calls” between the nine working group members and staff to discuss progress in the discussions with USTR.

Canadian officials also think the conversation in the United States is progressing. David MacNaughton who, until last week was Canada’s ambassador to the United States, also cast an optimistic tone. He told reporters last Thursday, “You all know that predicting outcomes in this city is not exactly a science, but I am confident that the Democrats as well as the Republicans want to get to yes on USMCA. I won’t say that it’s a slam dunk by any stretch of the imagination, but I do think that there is broad support even within, among Democrats.”

While MacNaughton noted the Canadian government is unwilling to reopen negotiations with the United States, he did indicate that if there are ways to clarify or strengthen certain aspects of the USMCA in order to gain ratification in the United States, Canada will do so.

As a reminder, MSCI members can use this portal created by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to send a letter to lawmakers in the U.S. House and Senate urging them to support the USMCA.