Washington, Dec 20 (IANS) The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives gave its approval to an amended version of the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).
The US House ratified the USMCA on Thursday by a vote of 385-41, reports Efe news.
Most of the negative votes were cast by Democrats on the left wing of their party, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley, known collectively as “The Squad”
The USMCA, which is the proposed successor to the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), will head now to the Senate, where President Donald Trump’s Republican colleagues are in the majority.
Washington, Ottawa and Mexico City initialed the USMCA in November 2018 after more than a year of negotiations spurred by Trump’s demand for a new pact to replace NAFTA, which he described as “one of the worst trade deals in history”.
While Mexico’s Congress ratified the USMCA in June, the Democrats, who took control of the House of Representatives in January, demanded stronger environmental and labour provisions in exchange for their support.
On December 10, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced an agreement with the Trump administration on modifications to the USMCA and the revised text was signed hours later in Mexico City by Mexican lead negotiator Jesus Seade, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland.
Pelosi hailed the amended text as a “victory for the American worker”.
“America’s great USMCA Trade Bill is looking good. It will be the best and most important trade deal ever made by the USA. Good for everybody – Farmers, Manufacturers, Energy, Unions – tremendous support. Importantly, we will finally end our Country’s worst Trade Deal, NAFTA,” Trump said on Twitter.
Meanwhile, a key change in the USMCA is a requirement that 75 per cent of cars be made in North America, up from 62.5 per cent under NAFTA.
Additionally, between 40 per cent and 45 per cent of a vehicle’s content must be produced by workers who earn at least $16 per hour, a stiffer requirement that could lead to more cars being manufactured in the US and Canada, as opposed to low-wage Mexico.
The deal also offers US dairy farmers greater access to the Canadian market and includes new provisions regarding e-commerce and intellectual property rights.