The Mexican Senate accepted a new North American trade agreement on Wednesday, having Mexico the first country to ratify a deal that President Trump has touted as his signature trade achievement.
“Mexico takes the lead, with clear signals that our economy is open,” Jesús Seade, Mexico’s top trade negotiator, wrote on Twitter, celebrating the Senate’s approval of the bill. “We trust that our partners will soon do the same thing in the interest of a strong North America, with clear rules, that is stable, competitive and attractive for investment.”
The accord, called the United States Mexico Canada Agreement, was signed late last year by the leaders of the 3 countries. For it to go into effect, it has to be validated by the legislatures of all three countries.
The path to approval has been bumpiest in Washington, where Democrats in Congress have increased concerns over Mexico’s enforcement of labor rights and environmental law — and smoothest in Mexico, where the president has explained the accord as a guarantee of stability for his country’s economy.
The enthusiasm of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico for the agreement marks a sharp reversal of his longstanding opposition to free trade and an astonishing turn around for a politician who has railed against Mexico’s free market policies in the past.
“We think it suits us, that it is beneficial for more foreign investment,” Mr. López Obrador said then at the time of his morning news conference, adding that the new trade accord would help build more well-paying jobs in Mexico.
Passage through the Senate was the final step for Mexico to allow the deal. For the treaty to be valid, after all, 3 legislatures approve it, all three leaders must sign a proclamation putting it into effect, Mr. de la Calle said.
The Canadian government has released legislation on the accord in Parliament, where the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has a lot and it is anticipated to be ratified.
Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s foreign minister, told reporters in Washington last week that Canada meant to move “in tandem” with the United States in passing the legislation.
“We think of it as a kind of Goldilocks approach,” she said. “We’re not going to go too fast, we’re not going to go too slow .”Despite the duties, Mr. Trump, Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada and Mr. López Obrador’s predecessor, Enrique Peña Nieto, signed the revised North American trade deal at the end of November.
Mexico guaranteed a 45-day reprieve from those potentially crippling tariffs and has started to crack down on the migrants, most of whom are fleeing poverty and violence in Central America. A new safety force, the National Guard, and military troops have started arriving at Mexico’s border with Guatemala.
The López Obrador government is determined to prevent a trade war with the United States. Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said last week that the duties could lead to an “economic crisis” that would hit one percent off growth and cost Mexico 1 .2 million jobs.