November 14, 2018 4:06 pm

Democrats call for USMCA tweaks as trade experts urge speedy ratification

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau isn't ruling out the possibility that Canada will ratify its new North American trade deal with the United States and Mexico even if U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum exports are still in place.

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Democrats are calling for tweaks to Canada’s new trade pact with the United States and Mexico as experts warn that economic uncertainty will linger until the deal is ratified in Congress.

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New Jersey Rep. Bill Pascrell, the presumptive next head of the influential Ways and Means Trade subcommittee, is the latest member of the newly reconfigured House of Representatives to warn that it’s not about to rubber-stamp the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

READ MORE: Canada pushing back against U.S. attempts to change text of USMCA deal: official

Pascrell tells Bloomberg that the new Democratic majority in the House will want better enforcement of the agreement’s labour and environmental clauses before voting to approve one of U.S. President Donald Trump’s singular accomplishments in his first two years.

California Rep. Nancy Pelosi, who is expected to lead the new House majority, has also indicated she wants to see better enforcement on labour and the environment before she’ll support the agreement.

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Trade lawyers, meanwhile, say economic uncertainty will be the norm rather than the exception until the deal is formally ratified by all three countries.

And they say that uncertainty would only get worse if Trump, in an effort to spur Congress into action, were to renew his threat to tear up NAFTA, the 24-year-old deal that remains in place until the USMCA comes into effect.

© 2018 The Canadian Press

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