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After Canada Ratifies Trade Deal, Replacing NAFTA, USMCA Has Been Approved by All Three Countries

The Canadian parliament ratified the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement on Friday, March 13 -- the third and final country in the trade deal to do so -- according to a statement from the U.S. Trade Representative. Canadian lawmakers decided to "rush through ratification" before the parliament adjourned due to the COVID-19 outbreak until at least April 20.

The USMCA had faced opposition in the Canadian Parliament and became stuck in a committee for several weeks. That delayed the adoption of the deal for two months after the United States ratified it and even held a signing ceremony. Mexico approved the deal last year.

"Now that the USMCA has been approved by all three countries, a historic new chapter for North American trade has begun," said U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

The underlying deal was agreed to by the leaders of all three countries in late 2018 but spent most of the next year being debated in Congress. House Democrats and their union allies argued that USMCA lacked significant enforcement provisions. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi engaged in extensive negotiations with the White House to amend the agreement, finally reaching a deal late last year. The House approved it in December, and the Senate approved it the following month.

By that time, swift ratification in Canada was no longer possible. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's ruling Liberal Party lost its majority in last year's elections and, with that, its ability to move legislation through the Parliament quickly. Several opposition parties raised objections to the USMCA, saying it made too many concessions to U.S. interests. The deal was never believed to have been in danger of being rejected by Canadian legislators, but procedural delays meant it spent weeks in the Foreign Affairs and International Trade Committee.

Canada's Deputy Prime Minister, Chrystia Freeland, said passing the trade deal would provide an economic boost that would help counter the damage to the country's economy from the coronavirus pandemic. "Getting NAFTA done was something that was entirely within the power of Canadian legislators to do and something we were able to do to help the Canadian economy at this challenging time," she said.

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