Pelosi: US-Mexico-Canada trade pact deal 'imminent'

Keith Laing
The Detroit News

Washington — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Thursday that a deal on President Donald Trump's proposed replacement for the North American Free Trade Agreement could be "imminent," giving automakers some sought-after certainty on trade rules and the president a potential big political win as he heads into a re-election bid.  

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi expressed hope that a NAFTA replacement could be approved by Congress this year.

"We are moving positively in terms of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement," Pelosi told reporters during a news conference in Washington. "Again, it all comes down to enhancement — excuse me — enforcement. Enhancement, too, but enforcement. 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." 

The proposed trade deal, known as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement — or USMCA — calls for increasing from 62.5% to 75% the proportion of a car's parts that have to come from one of the three countries to qualify for duty-free treatment. It also requires that 40-45% of an auto's content be made by workers earning at least $16 per hour. Vehicles not meeting the requirements would be subject to a 2.5% duty.

Trump has touted the agreement as a major victory for U.S. manufacturers, including carmakers. Labor leaders have raised questions about whether the new pact will include enough protections for American workers who are competing against Mexico counterparts who paid far less than U.S. laws would ever allow. 

Pelosi has floated the possibility of passing the USMCA by Thanksgiving, but the prospects for quick passage appear to have been dampened by the impeachment proceedings against Trump that are taking place in the U.S. House. 

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka has publicly thrown cold water on the idea of quick passage of the USMCA before the end of the year, saying in an interview with the Washington Post: “If there was a vote before Thanksgiving, the agreement would be defeated." 

Pelosi expressed confidence Thursday that the AFL-CIO could be brought on board with a compromise version of the trade agreement that has stronger labor provisions, and that it could be approved by both the U.S. House and Senate before the end of the year.

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Twitter: @Keith_Laing