President Donald Trump’s signing of a massive new trade pact with Canada and Mexico on Friday was met with a skeptical response from Democrats during a press conference they held.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said she was open to the trade deal but wanted to see more worker and environmental protections in it. She was joined by about a dozen incoming lawmakers — with one doubting the trade deal outright.
Trump has doggedly pursued the deal as a replacement to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
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“The trade agreement formally known as prince — I mean formally known as NAFTA — is a work in progress,” Pelosi joked while addressing a question on the proposed trade pact.
“We admire the [U.S.] trade representative and the attempts he has made to make us aware of what is in it. But what isn’t in it yet is enough enforcement reassurances regarding provisions related to workers and the environment.”
The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) was proposed by the three countries as a replacement deal on September 30. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto signed the deal alongside Trump on Friday in Buenos Aires, Argentina, while attending the G20 summit.
“There also hasn’t been a law passed in Mexico in term of wages and working conditions,” Pelosi said.
“When all of that happens people will make a judgment about whether they will be supporting it. This is not something that we have a piece of paper that we can say yes or no to, but we’re open to that.”
The U.S. Congress and the legislative bodies of both partner countries will have to pass the trade agreement before it can become official. That makes the future of the trade deal uncertain, with congressional control spitting when the new session starts on Jan. 3, 2019.
“My district is in San Diego and Orange country and cross-border trade is extremely important,” Mike Levin, representative-elect from California, said. “The president has taken our relationships with Canada and Mexico to the brink unnecessarily. And while we don’t know the final details of the USMCA, we do know that it largely resembles, in many ways, what was there before. A lot of this is for show.”
Trump has repeatedly argued that NAFTA has also hurt domestic workers by making it easier to outsource jobs. USMCA is intended to create a standard legal framework, strengthen trade relationships, ensure small businesses benefit, foster worker rights and help the environment.
“The USMCA is the largest, most significant, modern and balanced trade agreement in history,” Trump said during the signing ceremony on Friday. “All of our countries will benefit greatly. It is probably the largest trade deal ever made also. In the United States that new trade pact will support high-paying manufacturing jobs and promote greater access for American exports across a range of sectors.”
The USMCA counters outsourcing by ensuring labor and wage standards in certain industries.
It also includes other more progressive ideas, such as environmental protections, which Democrats want to be strengthened. It limits tariffs, as its predecessor did, while promising to go a step further by addressing non-tariff barriers.
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