Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Monday that he will write a letter this week to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urging her to approve a new trade deal by the end of the year.
Lopez Obrador expressed optimism at a press conference Monday that Pelosi and Democratic lawmakers will move forward by the end of the year with the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, negotiated by the Trump administration last year.
The new trade agreement would replace the North American Free Trade Agreement. Mexico approved the USMCA in June and is eager to see U.S. lawmakers do the same.
However, Mexico’s deputy foreign minister for North America, Jesus Seade, said he is “pessimistic” the deal will be approved by Congress before January.
The new trade agreement implements several key changes to NAFTA, including increasing U.S. farmers’s access to the Canadian dairy market, enhanced protections for intellectual property, and a 16-year automatic expiration date for the deal. The USMCA also requires a higher percentage of automobile parts to be manufactured in Mexico, the U.S., or Canada to avoid tariffs, and implements stricter protections for Mexico’s auto industry workers.
Democrats have argued the new deal does not go far enough in its labor and environmental protections.
Pelosi has suggested privately earlier this year that she “can get to yes” on the USMCA, but last week cast doubt on the possibility of pushing the agreement through in 2019.
“I’m not even sure if we came to an agreement today that it would be enough time to finish,” Pelosi said Thursday.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy afterwards criticized the House speaker for delaying passage, accusing his fellow California representative of failing to deliver on her promise to get the trade agreement approved.
“In nine days we’ll be at the one year anniversary when the three leaders came together to sign the initial United States, Mexico and Canada agreement,” McCarthy said Thursday. “Speaker Pelosi had promised that they were on a path to yes. How many times have we heard that?”