Mexico wants to ensure USMCA trade deal goes through, AMLO says


President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador arrives for his daily press conference at the National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico, on April 4, 2019. EPA-EFE/Jose Mendez

MEXICO CITY.- President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Thursday that his administration did not want to do anything that would endanger the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which is awaiting ratification in the US Congress.

«We don’t want to provide any reason for reopening the negotiations on the treaty. We don’t consider it beneficial for the country,» Lopez Obrador, popularly known as AMLO, said during his daily press conference at the National Palace.

The president was responding to a question about US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s recent comments that there would not be a vote on the USMCA until Mexico approved labor reforms.

Lopez Obrador, the founder and leader of the leftist National Regeneration Movement (Moreno) said he was not looking to reopen what were difficult negotiations that eventually led to the USMCA.

Mexican lawmakers are debating labor law reforms that would comply with USMCA standards.

Lopez Obrador said he expected the legislation eventually approved by Congress to «closely» meet the requirements of the trade agreement, which replaces the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

«What was reached and agreed to is good for Mexico, and it was accepted by the United States and Canada. We don’t want to give any reason or pretext, no excuse, to use as an argument or to wield against us that we are not complying with what was agreed to,» the Mexican leader said.

Lopez Obrador reminded reporters that his team had observer status during the negotiations to replace NAFTA, which took effect on Jan. 1, 1994.

The overhaul of NAFTA was spearheaded by President Enrique Peña Nieto, who governed Mexico from 2012 to 2018, and the negotiations dragged on for more than one year.

«We agreed to back all the terms that were agreed to and that’s the position we have,» Lopez Obrador, who took office on

On Nov. 30, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Mexican Economy Secretary Ildefonso Guajardo and Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland signed the deal in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on the sidelines of the G-20 Leaders’ Summit.

The officials put pen to paper after US President Donald Trump, Peña Nieto and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made separate statements and signed a symbolic document instructing their ministers to ink the trade deal.

Trump had insisted on renegotiating NAFTA, calling it a disaster for American workers.

Although Mexico and Canada had demanded that they be exempt from recent US tariffs imposed on steel and aluminum imports, the two countries eventually signed the deal without achieving that objective.

A key change in the USMCA is a requirement that 75 percent of cars be made in North America, up from 62.5 percent under NAFTA. Additionally, between 40 percent and 45 percent of a vehicle’s content must be produced by workers who earn at least $16 per hour, a stiffer requirement that could lead to more cars being manufactured in the US and Canada as opposed to low-wage Mexico.

The deal also offers US dairy farmers greater access to the Canadian market and includes new provisions regarding e-commerce and intellectual property rights.

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