Can Trump get USMCA through Congress? Canada should wait and see

by Colin Robertson

The Globe and Mail
March 26, 2019

Can President Donald Trump do a deal with Congress on the new North American trade pact? The Trump administration will pressure Canada and Mexico to move on USMCA, but let’s wait and see if Mr. Trump can deliver Congress.

Trade accords are like plays in three acts. In the first act, the governments decide on their respective objectives and get formal – as required in the United States – or informal legislative approval. The second act is the negotiation, with the ups and downs of the successive rounds and then the end-game gives and takes that, in the case of the United States-Mexico-Canada agreement culminated in the three leaders’ signature last November.

Now comes the final act, USMCA’s legislative implementation. It’s no sure thing.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and his team have been busy drafting legislation and briefing the House ways and means (where USMCA gets first consideration), and the Senate finance committees and their respective trade sub-committees. The International Trade Commission’s required USMCA economic assessment, delayed by the government shutdown, will likely show marginal economic gains beyond the current trade deal, the North American free-trade agreement.

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