Top delegates from Canada, Mexico, and the U.S. signed a fresh overhaul of a quarter-century-old trade contract Tuesday that intends to improve the implementation of worker rights and hold down prices for biologic medicines by eliminating a patent provision.
The signing event in Mexico City launched what could be the final approval effort for U.S. President Donald Trump’s three-year search to revise the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a contract he has blamed for the lack of millions of U.S. manufacturing jobs.
Mexico President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, U.S. Trade Executive Robert Lighthizer, and U.S. White House adviser Jared Kushner attended the event at National Palace.
The result of a rare display of bipartisan and cross-border cooperation in the Trump regime of global trade rows, the pact was signed the same day as he became the fourth U.S. president in history to face stiff impeachment.
The contract quickly got bogged down in further party division, however, as U.S. Senate Majority Chief Mitch McConnell stated he would possibly await a vote on the deal until after the impeachment case – likely kicking ratification into next year. Friction further emerged over how intrusive foreign enforcement of labor guidelines could be in Mexico.
However, Lighthizer called it “a miracle” that unions, companies, and actors from throughout the political spectrum had come together, saying it was a testimony to the benefits of the contract. Lopez Obrador credited Trump for working with him, while Freeland celebrated a triumph for multilateralism.
The U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) was inked over a year ago to replace NAFTA, however, Democrats holding the U.S. House of Representatives insisted on main modifications to labor and environmental enforcement before bringing it to a poll.