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November 4, 2019

Trump Administration, Democrats Continue To Meet On Fate Of USMCA

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the U.S. House Democrats’ Working Group continued their intensive engagement on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) this past week, with multiple high-level meetings taking place. Discussions continue to focus on some Democrats’ lingering concerns relating to enforcement, labor, the environment, and drug prices.

House Ways and Means Chair Richard Neal (D-Mass.), who leads the House Democrats’ work on the effort, on October 29 told reporters that U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and the working group are getting “really close” to a deal. He added, “A few issues on the labor side still have to be resolved, but it’s still a steady, steady march to progress.”

According to Politico, some of those outstanding issues left include determining the specifics of a labor inspection process to ensure Mexican factories are upholding the deal’s labor rules; specifics about what actually constitutes a labor violation; the extent of support for new infrastructure to prevent cross-border pollution; and a compromise on intellectual property provisions related to biologics.

To help move the discussions forward, Rep. Neal has asked that the Trump administration meet with U.S. labor groups to discuss their concerns about the trade pact. The White House has not yet responded to that request.

House Ways and Means Ranking Member Kevin Brady (R-Texas) also struck a positive tone, saying “Everything I hear is very positive, constructive … It seems to me they continue to move toward common ground.”

Stay tuned to Connecting the Dots for updates on these deliberations.

As a reminder, MSCI submitted comments to the USTR in June 2017 outlining the metal industry’s priorities for NAFTA renegotiation. MSCI also discussed the importance of the agreement in a September 2018 letter to President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.