Democrats ‘committed’ to passing trade deal: lawmaker
One concern is getting tougher labour standards in Mexico in the pact
OTTAWA — A senior U.S. Democrat lawmaker told Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday that ratification of the new North American free trade deal is a priority for his party, a commitment that could speed Canadian approval.
Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland met with Democrat Rep. Richard Neal, chair of the U.S. House of Representatives ways and means committee, and fellow committee members Democrats Suzan DelBene and Brendan Boyle and Republican Drew Ferguson.
That committee will play a key role on Capitol Hill in the ratification of the new trade agreement.
“We want to see this implemented. The renewal is very important to the United States,” said Neal, as the delegation from the United States met with Trudeau on Parliament Hill.
“I can tell you with all certainty that Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi is committed to getting to yes,” Neal said.
The updated trade deal between Canada, the United States and Mexico was signed last November but has yet to be ratified by the United States amid concerns among Democrats about several elements of the negotiated pact, including assurances that measures meant to boost labour protections in Mexico will actually be implemented.
Trudeau said that the government has been working closely with Democrats and Republicans for the past months to get to a “good place where we have the right deal for Canada, for the United States and for Mexico.
“There have been a lot of good conversations internally with the United States and Canada has been there to provide advice and feedback and reflection as we move forward,” the prime minister said.
“It is a pleasure to see the positive momentum that seems to be happening on this renewal of this very important trade deal.”
In a statement ahead of the meeting, Neal’s office said he would raising issues related to how the three countries can ensure the new deal “will serve the interests of North American workers, our shared environment, the health of our people, and the competitiveness of our economies.”
One concern for Democrats is implementing tougher labour standards in Mexico sought by the U.S. and Canada to level the playing field with their own labour markets.
That issue was on the agenda for Wednesday’s discussions, that included a working lunch hosted by Freeland.