USMCA talks in Mexico after Trump says ‘very good things’ happening

11 December, 2019 12:00 AM printer

WASHINGTON: Officials from the US, Canada and Mexico will meet in Mexico on Tuesday for talks on a new continent-wide trade deal after President Donald Trump hinted that efforts to push the pact through the US Congress were close to success.

The talks will follow a report that US and Mexican trade negotiators reached an agreement making changes to labor enforcement under the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) signed last year.

That would remove a principal hurdle to ratification of the deal, the fate of which had seemed precarious in recent weeks, reports AFP.

According to the Mexican government, the meeting will be led by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who on Monday called again for US lawmakers to endorse the agreement.

"There will be a meeting of the negotiating teams from Mexico, the United States and Canada on progress made," Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said in a statement on his Twitter feed late Monday.

With the window narrowing for action by the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives as 2019 draws to a close and an election year approaches, there has been a flurry of last-minute activity on the pact.

Lawmakers also face competing priorities as they press ahead with impeachment proceedings against Trump and legislation to prevent a government shutdown this month.

"I am hearing very good things," the president said Monday. "I am hearing a lot of strides have been made over the last 48 hours."

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and senior Trump adviser Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law, are expected Tuesday in Mexico, according to The Washington Post.

Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland -- the country's lead negotiator -- was also headed to Mexico for meetings on the pact, her office told AFP.

Earlier Monday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the chances of a deal were looking up.