The USMCA free trade agreement between the USA, Mexico and Canada has come a great deal closer to its entry into force. Representatives of the three countries signed a treaty amendment in Mexico City to which they had agreed to renegotiate.
The agreement will replace the North American Free Trade Pact Nafta, signed in 1994. It affects nearly 500 million people and covers an area with a total economic output of around $ 23 trillion (€ 20.8 trillion). The three partner countries exchanged goods and services worth around $ 1.4 trillion in 2018.
US House of Representatives Democrats and US President Donald Trump's government had agreed after tough negotiations to amend the treaty. The heads of state and government of the three countries had signed this on 30 November 2018 on the sidelines of a G20 summit in Buenos Aires. According to Nancy Pelosi, spokeswoman for the US House of Representatives, he now includes, among other things, stricter rules for workers' rights and environmental protection.
The negotiated amendment was signed by US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Canada's Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland and Mexican negotiator Jesús Seade to journalists in Mexico's National Palace. Other speakers included Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Trump consultant and succesor Jared Kushner.
Mexico has already ratified the agreement as the only one of the three countries. Parliament should now also approve the addition. The US and Canadian parliaments could soon ratify the revised treaty.
Trump and Democrats satisfied
"There is no question that this agreement is better than Nafta," Pelosi said. USMCA also included stronger mechanisms for enforcing the agreed standards. "Today we celebrate a victory for American workers," said Pelosi. The original text proposed by the government was unacceptable. The leader of the union alliance AFL-CIO Richard Trumka welcomed the agreement. Workers could be proud of it, he said.
Donald Trump is also convinced of the new agreement. "This is one of the best deals ever concluded for this country," the US president said on Monday. "It is a very important agreement." Trump had rejected his predecessor, Nafta, because he felt the agreement had too many disadvantages for the US, especially in agriculture and the auto industry. Trump therefore suspended the renegotiation. She was on the verge of failure several times.
The negotiations had also led to disagreements between the US and Mexico. For example, Mexico's Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard publicly denied US Democrats' demand for US inspections in Mexican factories.
Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador was pleased with the changes. "We spent more than a year with it, and it was not easy," he told journalists Tuesday. "Ultimately, it's a good result - and I would say not only for Mexico, but it's good for all three countries." López Obrador said that in addition to labor law and the environment, the changes also affected steel and aluminum trade.