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The new trade deal between the U.S., Canada and Mexico will allow the countries to compete as a region against the European Union and China, President Donald Trump said.
Trump struck a collaborative tone during a meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday, as the U.S. president hailed a deal with two countries whose trade practices he’s regularly criticized in the past. The U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA, is great for farmers, manufacturers and workers, he said.
“This brings us into a position where we’re not competing with each other, we’re competing against the world,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office on Thursday at the start of his meeting with Trudeau. “We’re competing with the European Union, we’re competing with China, it gives us a bigger dialog, it gives us a much bigger platform. It’s really good for all three.”
Trump, Trudeau and former Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto signed the USMCA deal late last year after grueling talks in which Trump regularly said Canada and Mexico were taking advantage of the U.S. He often threatened to abandon the pact USMCA will replace, the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Mexico has ratified the new deal, leaving the U.S. and Canada to do the same. Democrats are seeking some changes, but Trump said be believed it would eventually pass Congress.
“Let’s see what happens, but I really believe that Nancy Pelosi and the House will approve it, I think the Senate will approve it rapidly,” he said, referring to Pelosi, the House speaker. He said that he thought politics was holding up a vote.
“The day after the election, it would win with tremendous support but we have an election coming up,” he said. “But I think Nancy Pelosi’s going to do the right thing.”
The Trump administration is urging Congress to approve the trade deal before lawmakers leave for their month-long August recess. But House Democrats have identified four areas they want to address before the USMCA is put to a vote: labor, the environment, pharmaceuticals and an enforcement mechanism for the overall deal.
House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal, the Massachusetts Democrat leading the negotiation, expressed optimism that his colleagues could come to an agreement with the Trump administration. But he has cautioned against rushing talks.
Trudeau said at a news conference after the meeting with Trump that he wouldn’t lobby Congress to pass the deal.
“I fully respect the conversations and discussions going on in their ratification process,” he said. “Canada is not going to get involved” other than to answer questions or explain the deal as requested, he said.
But he warned that reopening talks to accommodate major changes sought by Democrats would lead to lengthy negotiations and potentially “worse outcomes” for Canada.
Canada’s House of Commons adjourned for its summer break on Thursday, as Trudeau was in Washington to meet with Trump, Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Trudeau has said he could recall lawmakers this summer to pass the deal as needed, and reiterated his position that he’d move as quickly as the U.S. does.
“We’re moving forward on the ratification process aligned with you,” Trudeau told Trump Thursday.
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