NAFTA re­place­ment an­nounced

From GOP to la­bor, sides praise NAFTA re­place­ment pact

Orlando Sentinel - - FRONT PAGE - By An­drew Tay­lor

House Democrats and the White House both praised the re­vamped pact as a win for Amer­i­can work­ers.

WASHINGTON — House Democrats and the White House an­nounced a deal on a mod­i­fied North Amer­i­can trade pact, hand­ing Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump a ma­jor Capi­tol Hill win Tues­day on the same day that im­peach­ment charges were an­nounced against him.

Both sides hailed the deal as a win for Amer­i­can work­ers.

They said the re­vamped U.S.-Mex­ico-Canada Agree­ment was a sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ment over the orig­i­nal North Amer­i­can Free Trade Agree­ment, with Democrats crow­ing about win­ning stronger pro­vi­sions on en­forc­ing the agree­ment while Repub­li­cans said it will help keep the econ­omy hum­ming along.

“There is no ques­tion of course that this trade agree­ment is much bet­ter than NAFTA,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, DCalif., said in an­nounc­ing the agree­ment, say­ing the pact is “in­fin­itely bet­ter than what was ini­tially pro­posed by the ad­min­is­tra­tion.”

Trump said the re­vamped trade pact will “be great” for the United States.

“It will be the best and most im­por­tant trade deal ever made by the USA. Good for ev­ery­body — Farm­ers, Man­u­fac­tur­ers, En­ergy, Unions — tremen­dous sup­port. Im­por­tantly, we will fi­nally end our Coun­try’s worst Trade Deal, NAFTA!” the pres­i­dent said in a tweet.

The deal an­nounce­ment came on the same morn­ing that Democrats out­lined im­peach­ment charges against Trump. The trade pact is Trump’s top Capi­tol Hill pri­or­ity along with fund­ing for his long-sought bor­der fence.

In Mex­ico City, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s sonin-law and se­nior ad­viser, Jared Kush­ner, U.S. Trade Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Robert Lighthizer and Cana­dian Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Chrys­tia Free­land joined Mex­i­can of­fi­cials to sign the up­dated ver­sion of the United States-Mex­i­coCanada trade agree­ment, or USMCA, at a cer­e­mony in Mex­ico City’s cen­turies-old Na­tional Palace.

Mex­i­can For­eign Min­is­ter Marcelo Ebrard con­grat­u­lated the ne­go­tia­tors for reach­ing a second set of agree­ments to an­swer U.S. con­cerns about la­bor rights in Mex­ico, and re­gional con­tent.

“Mis­sion ac­com­plished!” Ebrard told the gath­ered of­fi­cials.

Lighthizer praised the joint work of the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion, Democrats, busi­ness and la­bor lead­ers to reach an agree­ment, calling it “noth­ing short of a mir­a­cle that we have all come to­gether.”

“This is a win-win-win agree­ment which will pro­vide sta­bil­ity for work­ing peo­ple in all three coun­tries for years to come,” Free­land said. “That is no small thing.”

A U.S. House vote is likely before Congress ad­journs for the year and the Se­nate is likely to vote in Jan­uary or Fe­bru­ary.

Pelosi was the key con­gres­sional force be­hind the deal, which up­dates the 25-year-old NAFTA ac­cord that many Democrats — es­pe­cially from man­u­fac­tur­ing ar­eas hit hard by trade-re­lated job losses — have long lam­basted.

She and Ways and Means Com­mit­tee Com­mit­tee Chair­man Richard Neal, DMass., forged a pos­i­tive work­ing re­la­tion­ship with Lighthizer, whom they cred­ited with work­ing in good faith.

“Thanks to Pres­i­dent Trump’s lead­er­ship, we have reached an his­toric agree­ment on the USMCA. Af­ter work­ing with Repub­li­cans, Democrats and many other stake­hold­ers for the past two years we have cre­ated a deal that will ben­e­fit Amer­i­can work­ers, farm­ers and ranch­ers for years to come,” Lighthizer said. “This will be the model for Amer­i­can trade deals go­ing for­ward.”

“There is no deny­ing that the trade rules in Amer­ica will now be fairer be­cause of our hard work and per­se­ver­ance. Work­ing peo­ple have cre­ated a new stan­dard for fu­ture trade ne­go­ti­a­tions,” said AFL-CIO Pres­i­dent Richard Trumka. “Pres­i­dent Trump may have opened this deal. But work­ing peo­ple closed it.”

MARCO UGARTE/AP

From left, Deputy Prime Min­is­ter of Canada Chrys­tia Free­land, Mex­ico’s top ne­go­tia­tor Je­sus Seade and U.S. Trade Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Robert Lighthizer sign the trade deal.

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