As Canadian lawmakers prepare to head back to the House of Commons, one large file awaits them — the ratification of the Canada-U.S.-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA).
The trade deal was signed by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, U.S. President Donald Trump and Mexico’s former president, Enrique Pena Nieto, last November. It will replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) once it is ratified.
While on the campaign trail, Trudeau said he was “focused on the ratification of [CUSMA]” and on ensuring the deal “moves forward.”
However, despite these statements, Mexico remains the only country to have ratified the deal.
In order for the deal to pass, it must be ratified by lawmakers in all three countries.
Why haven’t the U.S. and Canada ratified CUSMA? Where does each country stand?
Here’s a look at what’s going on:
In June, Mexico became the first nation in the deal to ratify CUSMA, passing the free trade agreement in its Senate 114-4.
Mexico is now waiting on its partners to follow suit.
In a tweet on Thursday, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said he had spoken on the phone with Trudeau to congratulate him on his re-election and discuss the new NAFTA, known in Mexico as T-MEC.
“We agree to maintain good relations and continue to convince U.S. congressmen about the importance of approving the T-MEC for the benefit of the three nations,” he wrote.
However, in Canada, lawmakers have been waiting until the U.S. moves to ratify the deal before they follow suit.
Speaking at a press conference in June, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chrystia Freeland, said the country was “moving ahead with NAFTA ratification” but that it would be doing so “in tandem” with the U.S.
“We’re moving ahead. I think we’re on the right track,” she said. “And I think it is absolutely the right approach for Canada to intend to move in tandem with our partners, especially with the U.S.”
Trump spearheaded the new agreement, calling the old NAFTA a “disaster” and a “historic blunder” for the U.S.
Once the deal was finally signed after months of negotiations, Trump touted the agreement, saying it would “deliver for the American people.”
Since the deal was signed, the Trump administration has been pressuring Congress to ratify it and has expressed concerns that the chances the agreement will be passed grow slimmer with time.
“It gets more and more political because we get closer and closer to the election,” he said.
U.S. Democratic lawmakers, though, have demanded amendments to provisions regarding labour, the environment and prescription medication patents before they agree to ratify the deal.
However, on Thursday, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she was “optimistic” that Congress may vote soon on CUSMA.
“If we can come to terms, (which) I think we’re close to doing, this will be a template for future trade agreements — it will not only be good of itself but a good pattern for how we can proceed,” she told reporters.
“We have an opportunity to do it right,” she continued. “We’re not there yet but we understand the road — the last, shall we say, mile that we have to go. I’m optimistic.”
Earlier in October, Pelosi told reporters U.S. lawmakers were “making progress on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement.”
“We’re on a path to yes as far as the trade agreement is concerned,” she said. “At some point, it’s either yes or no — we either have enforceability or we don’t — but I’m hopeful that we will and I’m hopeful that it will be soon.”
Pelosi’s comments come as the chairman of the U.S. House ways and means committee, Richard Neal, heads to Ottawa to meet with Freeland. He is also scheduled to meet with Trudeau and is expected to discuss the ratification of CUSMA.
— With files from Rachael D’Amore and Reuters
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