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Mexican president urges Pelosi to get USMCA trade deal approved

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador on Friday said he wrote House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) a letter asking her to push forward approval of the trade deal negotiated between the United States, Mexico and Canada, he told reporters at his daily news conference.

“There’s agreement, and I took the opportunity to send Mrs Pelosi a letter explaining that it’s in the interest of the three peoples, the three nations, that this deal is approved,” said López Obrador of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

López Obrador has made passage of the USMCA through the U.S. House of Representatives a top diplomatic priority, despite his historical opposition to similar free trade agreements.

The Mexican Senate approved the agreement in June; the House of Representatives and Canadian Parliament have yet to ratify it.

The USMCA would replace the North American Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which López Obrador vehemently opposed from its inception in the early 1990s.

House Democrats have been reluctant to bring up the USMCA, arguing that Mexico needs to do more to enforce its labor laws and that the deal would push up drug prices regionally.

López Obrador in May pushed through a package of labor reforms that tightened Mexico’s already-progressive labor laws.

But Democrats have expressed concerns over enforcement of those laws, as Mexico has historically failed to uphold its strict worker protections and López Obrador’s austerity rules have gutted his government’s ability to enforce regulations.

A delegation of five House Democrats, including Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (Mass.), visited López Obrador earlier this week to discuss the country’s labor reforms.

“I appreciate today’s positive discussions and hope to see Mexico implement the substantial labor and enforcement reforms necessary to comply with its obligations under the agreement,” wrote Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.), a member of the delegation.

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