'A path to yes' on NAFTA will take changes: Bruce Heyman
Vice President Mike Pence promised the new trade pact between the U.S., Canada and Mexico will pass this year, shrugging off questions about whether the deal can win the approval of Democrats.
Pence met Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Thursday in a visit to the Canadian capital designed to hail the rewrite of the North American Free Trade Agreement. The vice president said the Trump administration will make “energetic efforts” to see Congress advance the deal this summer and that all countries will finalize approvals this year.
“I’m here to pledge to you that we’re going to work closely with Canada, with our neighbors in Mexico, and we’re going to get the USMCA done this year,” Pence told reporters in Ottawa during one of his events with Trudeau.
Asked at a news conference later whether acrimony between President Donald Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi could get in the way of ratification in Washington, Pence said: “The president and I are absolutely determined to work with rank and file in Congress and the leadership to move the USMCA forward.”
The visit capped nearly two years of rocky trade talks that strained ties between the U.S. and Canada. The three countries signed the deal last year and earlier this month removed tariffs on steel, aluminum and other goods -– eliminating a key irritant that otherwise would have hung over Pence’s visit.
Pence and Trudeau also discussed China and the potential threat posed by Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. “We consider Huawei incompatible with the security interests of the United States of America or our allies in freedom-loving nations across the world,” Pence said at a press conference.
The vice president also expressed support for the two Canadians seized by Chinese authorities on Dec. 10 -- apparent retaliation for Canada’s arrest of Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou, who the U.S. is seeking to extradite in an Iran sanctions case. The Trump administration “has spoken out strongly about the arrest and detention of two Canadian citizens in China,” he said. “Just know that we stand with you.”
The leaders also discussed Venezuela and their support for Juan Guaido, with Pence calling him the South American nation’s “legitimate president.” Canada backs Guaido and has also leaned on Cuba to drop its support of President Nicolas Maduro. “The world deserves to know that the people of Venezuela are suffering, and the United States and Canada, nations across this hemisphere and across the world continue to stand together until freedom is restored,” Pence said.
Trudeau introduced legislation to ratify the trade pact this week, though has signaled it will advance the deal at the same pace as the U.S. -- meaning Canada could stall it if Pelosi does, too.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has sent the new NAFTA deal for Senate approval, and said he’s optimistic the Democrat-led U.S. Congress will approve it.