A new trade deal between the US, Canada and Mexico will allow the countries to compete as a region against the EU and China, US President Donald Trump said on Thursday.
Trump struck a collaborative tone during a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as he hailed a deal with the two countries.
The US-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA, is great for farmers, manufacturers and workers, he said.
“This brings us into a position where we’re not competing with each other, we’re competing against the world,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office at the start of his meeting with Trudeau. “We’re competing with the European Union, we’re competing with China, it gives us a bigger dialog, it gives us a much bigger platform. It’s really good for all three.”
Trump, Trudeau and former Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto signed the USMCA late last year after talks in which Trump said that Canada and Mexico were taking advantage of the US.
He threatened to abandon the pact that the USMCA is to replace, the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Mexico has ratified the new deal, leaving the US and Canada to do the same. Democrats are seeking some changes, but Trump said he believed that it would eventually be approved by the US Congress.
“Let’s see what happens, but I really believe that [US House of Representatives Speaker] Nancy Pelosi and the House will approve it, I think the Senate will approve it rapidly,” he said.
He said that he thought politics was holding up a vote.
“The day after the election, it would win with tremendous support, but we have an election coming up, but I think Nancy Pelosi’s going to do the right thing,” he said.
The Trump administration is urging Congress to approve the deal before lawmakers leave for their month-long August recess.
However, House Democrats have identified four areas they want to address before the USMCA is put to a vote: labor, the environment, pharmaceuticals and an enforcement mechanism for the overall deal.
House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal, who is leading the negotiation, expressed optimism that his colleagues could come to an agreement with the Trump administration.
However, he has warned against rushing talks.
Trudeau said at a news conference after the meeting with Trump that he would not lobby Congress to pass the deal.
“I fully respect the conversations and discussions going on in their ratification process,” he said.
“Canada is not going to get involved” other than to answer questions or explain the deal as requested, he said.
Reopening talks to accommodate major changes sought by Democrats would lead to lengthy negotiations and potentially “worse outcomes” for Canada, he said.
Canada’s House of Commons adjourned for its summer break on Thursday, as Trudeau was in Washington to meet with Trump, Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Trudeau has said he could recall lawmakers this summer to pass the deal as needed and reiterated his position that he would move as quickly as the US does.
“We’re moving forward on the ratification process aligned with you,” Trudeau told Trump.
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