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Congress Could Press for USMCA Vote This Year


Republicans could push for a swift vote on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement if Congressional power swings to Democrats in the November elections. Some Republicans in the Senate are pushing to approve the new trade deal this year if the party loses the majority in the House. The USMCA will replace the North American Free Trade Agreement, and if one of the chambers switches sides, some believe Democrats would vote against the agreement because it’s a “win” for President Donald Trump.

Bloomberg reports not all Republicans are sure that a vote will happen this year, given that trade is such a volatile issue in the U.S. and that NAFTA has faced widespread criticism. However, Senate Finance Committee chairman Orrin Hatch has said the Senate “ought to move on NAFTA as soon as we can.” The Committee is the top panel in the Senate responsible for trade. A vote this year would be part of a busy lame-duck session that would include budget bills and the farm bill.

Another “win” for President Trump in the agreement is a clause in the new deal that nearly forbids deals with “non-market” countries, such as China. The language deep in the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement marks another blow in the tit-for-tat trade war the U.S. is leveraging against China. Reuters points out that the clause, which has stirred controversy in Canada, fits in with U.S. President Donald Trump’s efforts to isolate China economically and prevent Chinese companies from using Canada or Mexico as a “back door” to ship products tariff-free to the United States. Specifically, the provision specifies that if one of the current North American Free Trade Agreement partners enters a free trade deal with a “non-market” country such as China, the others can quit in six months and form their own bilateral trade pact.

Source: NAFB News Service