The trade pact between the United States, Mexico and Canada is sealed. The governments of the three countries signed the latest modifications to the free trade agreement on which the economic stability of the North American region depends on Tuesday in Mexico City. Although the negotiations ended in November 2018, the United States, through Democratic legislators, demanded in the last year that Mexico raise the standards of working conditions, so the Latin American country undertook a reform of its Labor Law. job.
TMEC negotiators –– Robert Lighthizer, US Trade Representative; Jesús Seade, undersecretary for North America for Mexico; and Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister of Canada–– signed in the National Palace the amendments to the treaty that contemplate new conditions in labor, environment, biomedicine, and the content of the automotive industry. The Mexican president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, attended as a witness to the final closure of the negotiation that lasted for almost two and a half years.
Confirmation that the treaty will be ratified by the congresses of the United States and Canada – Mexico will make a second review – comes at the last minute and just a few days before the US Congress closes for the Christmas recess and a month after the presidential campaigns begin in the US Trump, Trudeau and López Obrador held a telephone conversation at noon, minutes before signing a protocol amending the treaty. “I thanked both of them for their valuable participation and support in signing the TMEC,” López Obrador wrote on his Twitter account.
The TMEC could be approved before December 20 and would be noted as an achievement of President Trump in trade matters in the United States, while facing the impeachment process in his country. The US president asked two and a half years ago to open the negotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA, for its acronym in English) that occurred with the government of former Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto and in the first term of government of the first Canadian Minister, Justin Trudeau. The modifications occur when López Obrador already occupies the presidency of Mexico and Trudeau begins his second term as prime minister.
“We have achieved the best trade agreement in history,” said US negotiator Robert Lighthizer at the signing of the final agreement. The Mexicans agreed to create a dispute settlement panel in labor matters; they also gave in to the request of the US auto industry to meet 70% North American content in car production that will be reviewed in seven years for steel components and 10 years for aluminum. For their part, the Americans stopped insisting on 10-year protection for biomedical patents.
“It is an agreement that helps us boost the economic growth of our nations, without a doubt it means greater investment for Canada, the United States and Mexico. It is about attracting more investment to North America and as we all know if there is investment there is growth, if there is growth there is well-being, if there is well-being there is peace and there is tranquility ”, mentioned López Obrador in the act in which he signed the agreement. The Mexican president added that the TMEC will also serve to improve the social conditions of the region in the face of migration.
Negotiators acknowledged that the process has been anything but easy. López Obrador pointed out that there was a moment of “disagreement” and “break” with Trump, but that the negotiations continued. “We have done it together at a time when it is very difficult to get trade agreements to go ahead,” said Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland.
Democrats give Trump a victory
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Democrat Nancy Pelosi, announced on Tuesday her support for the free trade agreement between the United States, Mexico and Canada that will update the old NAFTA, in force since 1994. “This is the day we have been working for to say yes, ”Pelosi said. The yes to the new treaty, a priority in President Donald Trump’s economic plan, comes the same day that the Democrats – led by Pelosi – formalize the indictment against the president for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
The AFL-CIO union backed the new treaty minutes before the announcement by the Speaker of the House of Representatives. “This is more than a triumph for the unions. It’s a win for all workers, ”declared Congressman Richard Neal, the top Democratic negotiator. The goal, he explained, was to get the new treaty to resolve past problems in applying the provisions of the agreement in firmer and more resounding language.
Asked if US inspectors will be able, thanks to the new treaty, to show up at factories in Mexico to verify that labor standards are being met, Congressman Richard Neal answered with a categorical yes. It was one of the key demands of the unions. “We have reached an agreement that the working class can proudly support,” said Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO.
Violations of the treaty, he said, will have serious consequences. Neal insisted that the negotiations were in good faith although he admitted that at times they were very tough. “It was an opportunity that we could not miss,” he concluded, reiterating that the new treaty will be “significantly better than Nafta” not only in labor matters, but also in the environment and the pharmaceutical sector.
“The original agreement was not acceptable,” Pelosi insisted, “it had to be modified.” A delegation of Democratic legislators will travel to Mexico to meet with President López Obrador to present the changes. Then to Canada. The pact was announced with the impeachment process of Donald Trump entering a decisive phase. “We did not know what day the agreement was going to take place,” he said.
To achieve ratification, the Mexican government this year promoted a labor reform to improve the conditions of workers, and also promised to disburse $ 900 million over the next four years to change the labor justice system. López Obrador also assured US lawmakers that the minimum wage in Mexico will rise at least 2% above inflation every year.
Both Pelosi and Neal repeated that the trade agreement Trump presented to them was “deeply flawed” and that thanks to their standing firm in the negotiation they managed to improve it. Among the other points at which they got what they were looking for, they cited the elimination of the provision that protected pharmaceutical companies in new biological drugs and changes in the dispute panels.
Democrats insist that both Mexico and Canada agreed to the changes they proposed and that this will allow the treaty to work “infinitely better” for US workers than the proposal presented by President Donald Trump. Pelosi’s press conference, accompanied by Democratic negotiators, came two hours before the signing in Mexico City.
President Donald Trump took to social media to say that the TMEC will be the “best and most important trade agreement” ever achieved by the US “It’s good for everyone,” he continued, “farmers, manufacturers, energy and unions.” “Most importantly,” he concludes, “we will put an end to the worst trade agreement, NAFTA.” As a candidate, the Republican threatened to withdraw the United States if it did not modernize.