Last Thursday, The Washington Post published this: “Congress has an immediate opportunity to boost confidence by approving the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) this fall. With our economy on the edge, lawmakers must finish the job without delay and eliminate any question about the future of our trade relationship with our North American neighbors.”
The author was the legendary American business leader, Tom Donohue, who is still the president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and who, sporting a Cuban style summer shirt, also huddled with President Andres Maneul Lopez Obrador while both of them baked in the humid heat of a Yucatan Easter during a meeting organized by the consejo coordinador empresarial.
Just to be clear, AMLO wants the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement, which will substitute for NAFTA, to be signed.
This Thursday, Sept. 5, he stated, "Yesterday It was my turn to receive an important leader, a labor leader of the United States, to dispel doubts about the labor reform that was passed and how it will be implemented, and the commitment that there will be sufficient resources for the implementation of this reform, which was one of his doubts, is one of his concerns about the adoption of the treaty.”
Today, there seems to be only one obstacle to putting the treaty into effect: the Democratic legislators headed by Nancy Pelosi. Just what are they asking for?
“The Speaker emphasized that Democrats are especially concerned with enforcement of the Agreement and Mexico continuing to implement labor standards and other key commitments,” according to Pelosi’s spokesperson during a conversation in which she updated the Canadians on the status of the treaty.
Knowing that, read what President Lopez Obrador said when describing his meeting with the labor leader, a man he characterized as “progressive: “I am trusting that this meeting helped a lot. I believe that the treaty will be approved soon and that it is the best, what is the most suitable. I don't see any problems that can’t be resolved.”
The night before that meeting between the president and Donohue, Marcelo Ebrard hosted an evening welcome event, but there was an unexpected appearance, Secretary of Labor Maria Luisa Maria Alcalde Lujan, who explained the scope of the labor reforms that had been approved that same spring week, an initiative narrowing the power of the union leaders, which should allow wages to rise.
There is one very relevant matter heading into the 2020 elections: Donohue’s U.S. Chamber of Commerce has gone public with its decision to give financial support to the Democratic Party in light of failed meetings with the Republicans. Entrepreneurs will not like being snubbed by Pelosi’s army.
There is room for optimism. One major impediment for the national economy is not knowing what regulations the exporters will have to follow in the long term. Approving the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement could reduce fear among indecisive investors for Mexico. It remains to be seen what impact that will have.
It is not a remote possibility. “We still believe that the USMCA will be signed this year,” according to a statement on Sept. 8, 2019 from the largest U.S. bank, JP Morgan, and signed by its principal analyst for the Mexican market, Nur Cristiani.
*Editor’s note: Although accurately translated, this remark could not be independently verified.