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article imagePelosi: USMCA passage could occur 'this year'

By AFP     Nov 14, 2019 in World

The US House of Representatives could approve a new North American trade pact before the end of 2019, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday.

The announcement lifts hopes for American lawmakers to ratify the US-Mexico-Canada agreement ahead of an election season roiled by impeachment proceedings and competing legislative priorities.

"I'd like to see us get it done this year. That would be my goal," Pelosi told reporters at a regular media briefing, adding she hoped the US Senate would then take the matter up quickly.

"I would hope that they would move quickly with this."

A year ago, the United States, Mexico and Canada signed an update to the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement, changing rules on auto and digital trade, Mexican labor laws, intellectual property and dispute settlement systems for investors.

Mexican lawmakers ratified the deal in June but Democrats in Washington and US labor representatives have raised concerns -- looking for stronger guarantees that new Mexican labor laws will be enforced.

After months of discussions with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Pelosi said Thursday things were "moving positively."

"I do believe that if we can get this to the place it needs to be, which is imminent, that this can be a template for future trade agreements -- a good template," she said.

An independent US trade commission in April said analysis showed the new trade pact was likely to have a "moderate" positive effect on the US economy but could result in lower auto production and sales.

Lighthizer's office says however the agreement should result in billions more in investments in the auto sector and purchases of parts.

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