WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump assured Prime Minister Trudeau on Thursday that Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives would “do the right thing” and back — and eventually ratify — the new North American free trade pact.
Trudeau's trip to Washington, including his third Oval Office visit since Trump was elected in 2016, is aimed primarily at pushing the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) over the finish line in both countries.
Canada has started the ratification process, with legislation making its way through Parliament. Lawmakers in Mexico voted Wednesday in a landslide to ratify the deal, which U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer called “a crucial step forward.”
Trump needs to persuade his Democratic opponents in the House of Representatives — in particular Speaker Nancy Pelosi — to allow the actual start of the ratification of the USMCA.
Pelosi and her fellow Democrats want stronger enforcement mechanisms for the deal's new labour and environmental provisions — and Trudeau's visit might be just the thing needed to pry loose her support.
Trump sounded upbeat in the Oval Office, saying he expected Pelosi and the Democrats would “do the right thing” and back the deal in Congress.
“Let's see what happens, but I really believe that Nancy Pelosi and the House will approve it, I think the Senate will approve it rapidly. It's going to be very bipartisan,” the president said.
“I hope politically they can do what they have to do. Now, the day after the election, it would win with a tremendous support, but we have an election coming up, but I think Nancy Pelosi is going to do the right thing.”
Canada, meanwhile, has been building strong support for the new NAFTA and open borders within the U.S. and it has many American business allies in its corner.
“It's an opportunity for us, as you say, to keep talking about how we worked hard to build a great trade deal that's good for Canadian workers, good for American workers, good for Mexican workers as well. We're moving forward on the ratification process aligned with you,” Trudeau told Trump.
Meanwhile, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Thursday it was now up to Canada and the United States to ratify agreement after Mexico’s Senate approved the trade deal on Wednesday.
Lopez Obrador told his regular morning news conference that ratification of USMCA, which is due to replace the 25-year-old NAFTA, would help to give confidence to domestic and international investors in Mexico.
Trump said on Thursday that the United States and Canada have come a long way on the U.S., Mexico and Canada trade agreement.
The Canadian Press and Reuters contributed to this report.