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Trump’s NAFTA replacement hits snag in Congress

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May 3 (UPI) — President Donald Trump‘s trade deal with Canada and Mexico have hit roadblocks in Congress, with a key Republican calling for an end to tariffs on the countries while the Democrats demanded stronger worker protection language.

Trump called the new trade deal with Canada and Mexico to replace the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement “historic” in November. Trump argued during his campaign that both countries took advantage of the United States in the old trade agreement.

In a Washington Post op-ed last month, U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, wrote that Trump‘s deal will die if he does not lift tariffs he placed on Canada and Mexico earlier in his presidency. Legislators in Canada and Mexico have been slow to approve the deal, as well, because of the tariffs.

The Trump administration slapped a 25 percent tariff on steel and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum imports from Canada, Mexico and other trading partners, but many of those countries responded with retaliatory tariffs on an assortment of American exports, including washing machines, motorboats, pork, coffee and whiskey.

“I don’t see (the agreement) advancing in any of the three countries with the steel and aluminum tariffs in place,” Daniel Ujczo, an attorney who specializes in international trade, told USA Today. “I think that’s true in Washington, Ottawa and Mexico City.”

Democrats said last month that the White House has not satisfied their concerns about enforcement and the need for stronger labor standards. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she will not call for a vote on the measure until a large portion of the Democratic caucus is behind it.

Democratic labor concerns have been echoed by U.S. and Canadian labor unions. Mexico officials said that its government was fully onboard with resolving any lingering labor issues.

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