Wed, May 29, 2019 - Page 10 News List

Canada moves to ratify new pact with US, Mexico

Reuters, OTTAWA

Canada on Monday took a first step toward ratifying a new North American trade agreement, just three days ahead of US Vice President Mike Pence’s trip to Ottawa to discuss passage of the treaty.

Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland presented what is known as a “ways and means motion” to the Canadian House of Commons, which opens the way for the formal presentation of a bill.

The deal known as the USMCA, which would replace the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement, has yet to be approved by legislatures of Canada, Mexico and the US.

The US struck deals on May 17 to lift tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada and Mexico, removing a major obstacle to legislative approval.

Pence is due to meet Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa tomorrow.

The US is Canada’s top trading partner, taking in 75 percent of its goods exports. Reaching a new trade deal had been a priority for Trudeau’s Liberal government, and a national election is five months away.

Freeland said she had spoken over the weekend with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and less than two weeks ago with Mexico’s government about their ratification process.

The administration of US President Donald Trump negotiated the deal, but some US Democratic lawmakers demand stronger enforcement provisions for USMCA’s new labor and environmental standards.

Former Canadian minister of foreign affairs John Manley, a Liberal, said on Friday that Canada should pass the new treaty this summer.

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