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article imageMexico won't ratify new NAFTA deal unless U.S. lifts tariffs

By Karen Graham     Mar 3, 2019 in World
Ottawa - Mexico has announced there won't be a new NAFTA deal with the United States unless President Donald Trump lifts the tariffs on steel and aluminum imposed on Mexico, tariffs it also imposed on Canada
Mexico's Congress will be asked to approve a labor-reform bill this spring as a necessary step to ratifying the new North American free-trade pact, now known as the United States-Mexico-Canada pact (USMCA) later this autumn, say Mexican officials.
The Canadian government pushed to improve worker's rights in Mexico, siding with the U.S. on wanting to level the playing field between Mexico's workers and workers in their countries, especially in the auto industry.
Interestingly, worker's rights was a key platform of Mexico's new government under socialist reformer Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO). In an interview, Luz Maria de la Mora, Mexico’s deputy trade minister said it wasn’t a huge sacrifice because elevating the status of the country’s workers is what brought the Morena party to power.
US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer led the talks to renegotiate NAFTA and is a veteran of the...
US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer led the talks to renegotiate NAFTA and is a veteran of the 1980s trade conflicts with Japan
NICHOLAS KAMM, AFP
“With the agreement or without the agreement, this is something central to President Lopez Obrador — strengthening workers’ rights and strengthening trade deals in Mexico,” said de la Mora.
The AMLO government wants the Labor Reform package ratified by Mexico's Congress before they adjourn on April 30 "so we can reflect the commitments that we've made under the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement in domestic legislation." This means the new agreement will be sent to the Mexican Congress for ratification after it reconvenes on Sept. 1, she said.
But none of this will happen unless the United States lifts its so-called section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum exports, said de la Mora, reports CTV News.
Trump imposed tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum from Mexico and Canada, citing a controversial national-security clause in U.S. trade law known as Section 232. Both Canada and Mexico say it is illegal.
Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland (L)  Mexican Economy Minister Idelfonso Guajardo (C) and...
Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland (L), Mexican Economy Minister Idelfonso Guajardo (C) and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer pose during the seventh round of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) talks in Mexico City
Ronaldo SCHEMIDT, AFP
During a public panel in Washington D.C. recently, Canada's Transport Minister Marc Garneau told Trump's top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, the tariffs are "a serious impediment to us moving forward on what is the best trade deal in the world." Trudeau spoke to Trump on Thursday and "raised the issue of steel and aluminum tariffs and expressed the need for the removal of tariffs," the Prime Minister's Office said.
If the tariffs are not lifted, Mexico will be happy with the current NAFTA agreement, which still remains in force, says de la Mora.
"We hope to have this new agreement in place. But in the absence of the new agreement, we know that NAFTA is good enough," she said.
Mexican senators who were in Ottawa the past week to confer with their Canadian parliamentary counterparts agreed with de la Mora's assessment. "We are going to approve it, but right now our government is trying to deal with this (the tariffs)," Sen. Antares Guadalupe said in an interview.
Senator Hector Vasconcelos, the head of the Mexican Senate's foreign-affairs committee, was asked what would happen if the new trade agreement wasn't ratified. "Life goes on, I assure you," he said, referring to the current NAFTA. "It's good enough and we will try to get it better. That's what we are going to do. We have to discuss a lot in Mexico."
More about Mexico, Nafta, USMCA, steel tariffs, laborreform
 
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