UPDATED 6:33 AM PT — Wednesday, January 30, 2019
Congress has received a “to do list” from the Trump administration to begin phasing out parts of NAFTA in favor of the new USMCA trade agreement. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer introduced the proposal on Tuesday, pushing Congress closer toward ratifying the agreement.
The list includes tariff exemptions for Canada and Mexico, and changes to the “rules of origin” clause for importing vehicles and auto parts to encourage free and reciprocal trade.
“But we lost 25% of our car business because of NAFTA. NAFTA was a disaster. Now we have the USMCA. It makes it very difficult for companies to, incentive wise, move to other countries, and we will be making billions and billions of dollars a year more money.” — President Donald Trump
In the long run, the USMCA is expected to boost manufacturing jobs in the U.S. and give dairy farmers greater access to the heavily guarded Canadian market.
The replacement NAFTA deal was signed by President Trump, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and outgoing Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto on the sidelines of the G-20 summit last November.
“This new agreement will ensure a future of prosperity and innovation for Mexico, Canada, and the United States,” stated President Trump. “I look forward to working with members of Congress and the USMCA partners, and I have to say, it’s been so well reviewed, I don’t expect to have very much of a problem.”
However, if you fast forward several months, lawmakers have been hesitant to take it up for a vote. Many Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, are saying they want to see Mexico make a good faith effort on reforms first.
In the upper chamber, Chairman Chuck Grassley of the Senate Finance Committee was also hesitant. He said lawmakers will need to carefully consider the proposal and work out all the details before bringing it for a vote.