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Negotiators Making Progress on USMCA

Podcast / Newsline June 26, 2019

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U.S. farmers are waiting for passage of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement and the economic boost it will provide. Chad Smith has more.

Smith: Mexico is the first of the three nations in the USMCA to ratify the agreement. Dave Salmonsen, senior director of congressional relations for the American Farm Bureau, says ratification shows America’s neighbors are taking the agreement seriously.

Salmonsen: It’s a good sign to our Congress that it can get done. Mexico wants this to get done and they’re willing to do some hard things. Changes to their labor laws was a big reform for them, there is opposition to that, but they went ahead and they’re doing it, so I think that’s a sign that USMCA is something that the U.S. needs to get done.

Smith: Salmonsen says Canada is also making progress toward ratifying the agreement. Canadian members of parliament introduced the measure before the session ended because of upcoming national elections. Lawmakers can be called back at any time to pass the agreement.

Salmonsen: It’s not really a question of them with passing, it’s more a question of when they’re going to pass it, and I think as they see the U.S. making progress, they would probably want to move it through their Parliament around the same time that the U.S. would move it through, but again, a very positive sign with Canada that they are ready to go.

Smith: U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer is currently negotiating with House Democrats regarding some of the things they’d like changed in the agreement, including labor, the environment, enforcement and drug pricing.

Salmonsen: Democrats have some ideas, they want changes, the administration is working with them on that. Ambassador Lighthizer was at hearings before the Senate Finance Committee and House Ways and Means Committee, pledged that he would work with them, he thought these were issues that could be addressed. It goes mostly around these issues with just better enforcement. There’s provisions in the USMCA, how are they actively implemented and enforced, and that’s something everybody cares about in all trade agreements.

Smith: Chad Smith, Washington.

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