Mexico became the first signatory to the new North American Free Trade Agreement negotiated in 2018 and signed by the USA, Canada and Mexico in November of that year. The new deal replaced NAFTA, which President Trump called in his 2019 State of the Union address a “catastrophe” while urging Congress to approve the new deal, known as USMCA. the US, Mexico, Canada Agreement.
Being the first of the three countries to sign sends a message to the other two partners that Mexico is committed to the principles of the deal.
“USMCA passes! Mexico goes first with clear signal that our economy is open,” Jesús Seade, Mexico’s undersecretary for foreign affairs, wrote on Twitter. “We’re confident that our partners will soon do the same,” Seade added.
The Mexican Senate passed the USMCA only three weeks after Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador submitted it to the lawmakers for their approval. Obrador had to call a special session for this purpose, since the regular session had already concluded its work at the end of April.
The bill passed by an overwhelming majority of 114 in favor, 4 against, and 3 abstentions.
The Trump administration expressed pleasure at Mexican’s move, hoping to have the agreement ratified in the US Congress during the summer. But congress, especially Democrats, are not in a hurry to pass the deal. They want the administration to change provisions in the deal related to enforcement, labor, environmental issues and drug pricing. If the Democrats succeed in making changes to the agreement, the new deal will have to go back to Mexico to vote on the newer version.
Canada said they are going to wait and see if the US makes any changes to the bill before their Parliament votes on the agreement.
“Our plan is to move forward in tandem with the U.S. We think of it as a kind of Goldilocks approach. Not too hot, not too cold. We’re not moving too fast, not moving too slow,” Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said last week.