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June 17, 2019

United States, Canada Seek Approval Of New Trade Pact At Same Time

Republican members of Congress are hopeful that the U.S. House and Senate will consider ratification of the United States Mexico Canada Agreement, or USMCA, the trade agreement to replace NAFTA, before Congress’ August recess. To meet that deadline, the White House will have to address Democrats’ concerns about the deal.

Those discussions have started and, as Politico reported last week, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has named nine Democrats to a Trade Working Group that will seek to resolve the party’s concerns about the USMCA with the White House. Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, which oversees trade policy, will lead the Working Group.

The panel is divided into four subgroups: drug pricing, labor, environment and enforcement. Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) will lead the discussion on drug pricing; labor issues will be handled by Reps. Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif.) and Mike Thompson (D-Calif.); environmental issues will be addressed by Reps. Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.) and John Larson (D-Conn.); and discussions about enforcement will be led by Reps. Terri Sewell (D-Ala.) and Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.).

Canadian officials, meanwhile, said last week that they will try to move approval of the USMCA through Parliament around the same time the U.S. Congress votes on it. Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said, “Our plan is to move forward in tandem with the U.S. We think of it as a kind of Goldilocks approach. Not too hot, not too cold. We’re not moving too fast, not moving too slow.”

Mexican officials are likely to move a lot faster. Reuters reported last week that lawmakers there could approve the USMCA as early as this week.