Democrats, White House near deal for vote on renegotiated U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade pact

The Trump administration’s chief negotiator said he’s close to an agreement with House Democrats that would allow a new trade deal between the United States, Mexico, and Canada to come to a vote.

The Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the negotiations, reported Monday that U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer have been meeting for months to hammer out an agreement to pass the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA, which is a renegotiation of the 1990s-era North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Renegotiating NAFTA was a campaign pledge for President Donald Trump in 2016.

Sources told the WSJ that in recent days negotiators have narrowed differences, making it more likely that the pact will be voted on soon.

“We are very, very, very close to completion,” an administration official told the paper.

The biggest divide is over revising the agreement on the enforcement of labor rules, a priority for Democrats, the paper reported.

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Mexico’s chief trade negotiator, the undersecretary for North America, Jesús Seade, who visited Washington last week, returned to update Mexican senators in Mexico City on Sunday.

Afterward Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard, who was also at the meeting, said while his government remains opposed to allowing U.S. inspectors to enforce labor rules in Mexico, he said he would back the use of arbitration panels to resolve any disagreements over labor standards.

The Mexican Senate has already ratified the agreement, but House Democrats have held up ratification to seek changes to the USMCA.

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The agreement was negotiated by the Trump administration last year.

The Canadian government has indicated that it would accept changes that the U.S. and Mexico agreed to.

Trump, during his 2016 campaign, heavily criticized the agreement, which he blames for the loss of millions of jobs in the U.S. over the past two-and-a-half decades that NAFTA has been in effect.

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