Thursday, 2 July 2020

US, Mexico, Canada to sign deal finalizing trade agreement

Photo: Judi Bottoni, STR

MEXICO CITY: The United States, Mexico and Canada are expected to sign a deal finalizing their new trade agreement, capping more than two years of negotiations and paving the way to ratification.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who will chair a meeting of officials from the three countries at 1800 GMT, said they had reached a deal sealing the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) after a flurry of last-ditch talks.

“There is an initial deal between the governments,” the leftist leader told his daily news conference. “Today it will be signed by… the three countries’ negotiators.”

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — the key opposition Democrat needed to move the agreement forward — and American labor unions on Tuesday gave their blessing to the deal, which they said now included improved labor standards.

Pelosi said the deal can now win Congressional approval, calling it “infinitely better than what was initially proposed by the administration.”

The main US labor federation, the AFL-CIO, also called the deal a “vast improvement” over the original USMCA, which was signed a year ago but then got bogged down in haggling.

“For the first time, there truly will be enforceable labor standards,” including inspections of factories, said Richard Trumka, the federation’s president, whose support is critical to get the deal through Congress.

The changes also have toughened measures to monitor environmental provisions.

And they remove the requirement for the countries to provide at least 10 years of exclusivity for biologic drugs, which blocks cheaper generic versions.

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