Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland is in Mexico City today in a last-minute flurry to tweak the renegotiated North American trade agreement.
Mexico’s Foreign Ministry says officials will meet at midday Tuesday at the presidential palace, along with U.S. President Donald Trump’s trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, and Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner.
The leaders of the three countries signed an agreement, known as the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement or CUSMA in Canada, over a year ago in a well-publicized event on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Argentina.
But the deal needs to be ratified by all three players, and congressional Democrats in Washington have been unwilling to move forward.
One of the main sticking points has been fears about enforcing the new deal’s higher labour and environmental standards in Mexico.
After months of negotiations, The Associated Press reported Monday that congressional Democrats may be satisfied with the text of changes proposed by Lighthizer. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi met with senior Democrats on Monday evening to study the changes, and said more meetings were planned for Tuesday.
Lighthizer presented his Mexican counterpart, Jesus Seade, with proposed changes on Saturday. The next day, Mexican senators met to consider the new text and signalled their approval.
“We’re close. We’re not quite finished yet. We’re within range,” said Pelosi on Monday. “We’re at a moment of truth.”
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Trump spoke by phone on Monday evening about “progress towards ratification of the new North American Free Trade Agreement,” according to the Prime Minister’s Office.
An agreement today would allow Lighthizer to modify the implementation bill that CUSMA proponents still hope could be brought to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives before its Christmas break, amid impeachment proceedings and ahead of the presidential primary season.