House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) expressed hesitation on Thursday over the trade deal that President Donald Trump is pursuing after meeting with his trade representative.
Trump has made trade a central issue within his administration, which has worked for almost two years to create a replacement trade agreement with Canada and Mexico.
The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) was proposed by the three countries this fall after a long and hard-fought negotiation process to do just that.
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has led the efforts by the administration to create the replacement agreement.
His almost two years of negotiations eventually led to the signing of the deal last week by the three partner countries in Buenos Aires, Argentina, at the G20 summit.
But it still needs to pass the legislatures in each country.
“U.S. Trade Representative Lighthizer and I had a constructive conversation today, and I appreciate his visit,” Pelosi said in a statement.
“As I reiterated to USTR Lighthizer, while there are positive things in this proposed trade agreement, it is just a list without real enforcement of the labor and environmental protections.”
Pelosi is likely to become the next speaker, which will make her a potential roadblock when the new session begins January 3. Democrats were able to regain control of the House during the midterm elections held on November 5; Republicans maintained their majority in the Senate.
“We are also still waiting for Mexico to pass its promised law on the wages and working conditions of Mexican workers competing with American workers,” Pelosi said. “Working with our chairman Richard Neal through the auspices of the Ways and Means Committee, we will be hosting meetings to brief members on the provisions in the proposal and to hear from various stakeholders as members make their judgments.”
The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has been the foundation of trade relations among the three countries since 1994. But Trump has been critical of the deal and has long vowed to replace it.
He took a major step toward achieving that goal when he signed the replacement deal with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.
NAFTA helped boost trade relations among the partner countries by eliminating or reducing tariffs. The USMCA promises to go a step further by addressing non-tariff barriers and including increased protections for workers who might be harmed by allowing for greater trade access.
The USMCA ensures labor and wage standards in certain industries.
It also includes other more progressive ideas, such as environmental protections. The deal is intended to create a standard legal framework, strengthen trade relationships, ensure that small businesses benefit, and foster worker rights and the environment.
USMCA also has provisions specific to certain industries, such as farming and textiles.
The deal promises to boost manufacturing by establishing more specific rules of origin provisions. Rules of origin are used to determine in which country a product originated.
The update is intended to provide greater incentives to source goods and materials in North America.
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