US, Mexico, Canada negotiators making final USMCA push

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(AFP) – US, Mexican and Canadian trade negotiators met on Wednesday in an effort to put the final touches on a regional free trade agreement that can pass muster in the American Congress.

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Democratic legislators have been asking for tougher enforcement of labor standards in the agreement formerly known as NAFTA.

Mexico’s top trade negotiator Jesus Seade said talks appear to be in the final stretch to win approval for the rebranded US-Mexico-Canada Agreement or USMCA.

Mr Seade said he met with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and spoke to Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland by phone.

Ms Freeland, who has handled the trade talks since President Donald Trump demanded NAFTA be renegotiated, is on her way to Washington for late afternoon meetings with her counterparts.

Mr Seade told reporters after leaving the meeting that “everything appears to be going in the right direction,” but he would not speculate on the timeframe for final approval.

“I feel like we are headed in the right direction,” he said. “I have the concrete proposals with me, and I have to study them carefully.”

The Trump administration has been engaged in tough negotiations with the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives for months trying to secure a deal that can win the approval of legislators.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Monday recently that an agreement was “within range,” and earlier this month she said she would like to get the accord approved this year.

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