Mexico became the first country to ratify the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) when its Senate approved it by a vote of 114 in favor to 4 against on June 19.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador described the ratification as “very good news.”
“We celebrate the approval in the Senate of the [USMCA], to maintain our economic and commercial relations with the United States and Canada,” Obrador said. “It means foreign investment in Mexico, it means jobs in Mexico, it means guaranteeing trade of the merchandise that we produce in the United States.”
The United States is Mexico’s biggest export market, topping $372 billion of goods and services in 2018, according to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. Just over $299 billion was exported from the U.S. to Mexico last year. The largest category of imported goods coming in from Mexico to the U.S. was automobiles, which accounted for $93 billion.
The USMCA must now be ratified by the legislatures of Canada and the United States. If approved by the two countries, USMCA would replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which President Donald Trump has threatened to withdraw the United States from declaring it as “one of the worst trade deals ever made.”
On Wednesday, President Trump congratulated Obrador in a tweet, stating the U.S. Congress needs to follow suit.
“Congratulations to President Lopez Obrador – Mexico voted to ratify the USMCA today by a huge margin. Time for Congress to do the same here!,” Trump tweeted.
The USMCA would update country of origin rules, labor provisions, U.S. farmers receiving access to Canadian dairy markets and intellectual property and digital trade laws.
However, the USMCA has been on hold in Washington for months, delayed by everything from the immigration issue at U.S. borders to President Trump’s threat to impose a 5 percent tariff on imports from Mexico.
Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi (D-California) did not provide any timetable for the House to take up the legislation to approve USMCA after learning of Mexico’s passage on June 19. Pelosi said she has concerns over enforcement tools, labor and environmental protections and provisions on pharmaceuticals.
While Congress debates whether or not to ratify USMCA, everyone from farmers, manufacturers to trade and trucking associations are urging politicians to approve the new trade deal.
“Ensuring free and fair trade with our closest neighbors is critical to the trucking industry, which moves $772.3 billion worth of goods across our borders with Mexico and Canada,” said Chris Spear, president and chief executive officer of the American Trucking Associations.
Spear added, “trade with these two countries alone supports nearly 90,000 Americans in trucking-related jobs and generates $12.62 billion in revenue for our industry. We encourage Congress to move forward on ratifying this important agreement so all three nations may continue to share in the benefits that trade creates.”