NAFTA 2.0 Inching Closer to Ratification, Though Hurdles Exist

NAFTA 2.0, sometimes referred as USMCA, is inching closer to ratification. US speaker, Nancy Pelosi, said they are getting closer to ratification.

NAFTA 2.0, or USMCA (US Mexico Canada Agreement), has been in a bit of a holding pattern for a number of months. In fact, the last time we saw movement on this “trade” agreement was back in September of last year.

As we already reported, on the leadup to the final negotiated agreement, major multinational corporations and corporate organizations were fiercely lobbying to put laws in the agreement they wanted. This includes the RIAA and MPAA which are notorious for pushing for anti-consumer copyright laws. As a result, provisions are in the agreement that call for a massive digital rights crackdown.

One thing Canadian law experts are eyeing is the fact that the “trade” agreement would call for increasing the length of copyright terms from life plus 50 years to life plus 70 years. Of course, there is no economic basis that makes the case that this is needed. In fact, a lot of the independent research suggests that this would hamper the economy.

Of course, Canada and Mexico have been on a holding pattern since. This is because it faced gridlock in the US congress thanks in part to the lowering of labour standards. Now, it appears that there may be movement on this agreement. US Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, says that progress is being made. From Reuters:

The U.S. House of Representatives is making progress every day toward approving the trade agreement President Donald Trump worked out with Canada and Mexico, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Thursday.

The House is on a “path to yes,” Pelosi said about ratifying the agreement, which was signed nearly a year ago, adding that her chamber’s inquiry into whether Trump should be impeached has “nothing to do” with its work on the agreement.

“We are moving with the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, making progress every day,” Pelosi said. “I’m optimistic that we are still on a path to yes, and that … we will come to conclusion soon on that.”

Of course, there are obstacles on the horizon for the trade agreement in the US. From The Toronto Star:

A congressional working group was meeting Wednesday with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in an attempt to come to a resolution that would see the House of Representatives ratify the new NAFTA within the next two months.

Pressure is mounting, as most observers agree that if it does not happen this year, it is unlikely to pass next year during an election season, pushing it to the end of 2020 or beyond.

Canada has said it will ratify the deal — called the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) here — once the U.S. Congress does. Mexico, the other party to the agreement, has already ratified it.

Of course, the agreement is not exactly in the political spotlight at the moment. That honour goes to the on-going impeachment process of US President Donald Trump. A recent vote held approved of the process of moving ahead with impeachment, marking only the fourth time in American history this process began happening. From The New York Times:

WASHINGTON — A bitterly divided House of Representatives voted Thursday to endorse the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry into President Trump, in a historic action that set up a critical new public phase of the process and underscored the toxic political polarization that serves as its backdrop.

The vote was 232-196 to approve a resolution that sets out rules for an impeachment process for which there are few precedents, and which promises to consume the country a little more than a year before the 2020 elections. It was only the third time in modern history that the House had taken a vote on an impeachment inquiry into a sitting president.

Two Democrats broke with their party to vote against the measure, while Republicans — under immense pressure from Mr. Trump to shut down the impeachment inquiry altogether — unanimously opposed it.

Minutes after the vote, the White House press secretary denounced the process as “a sham impeachment” and “a blatantly partisan attempt to destroy the president.”

While the political focus is on the infamous Trump phone call to Ukraine, there is the possibility out there that politicians could look at other reasons for impeachment. In fact, there is currently a whole website devoted to documenting all the impeachable offences Trump has allegedly committed while in office. So, there is a lot of material to work with – almost an excessive amount of material to work with, really.

While there is an insistence that the movement on NAFTA 2.0 and the impeachment process are two separate processes, both are going to require time and resources. Since impeachment is moving ahead quickly, it’s going to be a challenge to devote enough time to pass NAFTA 2.0. This is especially considering the political implications of passing NAFTA 2.0.

Do Democrats really want to hand Trump a rare win? After all, the only other technical wins for Trump so far is nominating a drunk to the Supreme Court and US special forces killing ISIS leader al-Baghdadi while Trump happened to be president. So, political calculus could also play a roll in all of this as well. Additionally, let’s not forget the fact that the next US general election is scheduled to be held on November 3, 2020. Given how excessively long US elections are, that is practically right around the corner at this point. So, the clock is also ticking on things as well.

So, NAFTA 2.0 is by no means out of the woods yet, but there is forward movement happening. How significant that is, however remains to be seen.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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