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The House of Representatives approves the T-MEC, Trump's trade agreement with Canada and Mexico

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(CNN) – The House of Representatives of the United States approved on Thursday the revised North American Free Trade Agreement (known as T-MEC or USMCA), with which the main legislative priority of President Donald Trump was sent to the Senate, just one day later that the House voted to take the president to political trial.

After being approved with an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote of 385-41, the trade agreement promoted by Trump is one step closer to ratification after more than a year of negotiations between his administration and the House Democrats.

Approximately three dozen Democrats voted against the agreement, along with only two Republicans: representatives Thomas Massie and Ted Yoho.

The Republican-controlled Senate is expected to vote on the agreement in early 2020, only after the conclusion of the political trial against Trump.

The president, who repeatedly described the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA or NAFTA) of 1994 as "the worst trade agreement in our country", campaigned in 2016 to renegotiate the pact and signed the renewed United States Agreement -Mexico-Canada with its Canadian and Mexican counterparts about a year ago. Congressional Democrats pushed for additional labor standards to be added.

(SAUL LOEB / AFP / Getty Images)

The agreement for the most part keeps NAFTA intact. Now it deals with digital commerce, imposes stricter labor regulations and environmental compliance, and also pushes the Canadian dairy market to open to American farmers. It also requires that more parts of a car be manufactured in North America to remain duty free.

But the impact on the general economy will probably be moderate, according to an April report by the US International Trade Commission. UU., A federal government agency. It discovered that the initial version of the T-MEC would create 176,000 jobs after six years and increase GDP by 0.35%, an impact that the agency described as "moderate." For the sake of comparison, the United States added 266,000 new jobs in November alone.

The report estimated that the agreement would add 28,000 jobs to the auto industry specifically, a number that both the Trump administration and an industry group, which supports the T-MEC, argued that it was too low. The administration's own report projected that the agreement would create 76,000 auto jobs in five years. That would mean a more than 7% increase in employment over the current 990,000 American auto workers.

The momentum comes from some new rules for the automobile trade. The agreement requires that 75% of the parts of a vehicle be manufactured in one of the three countries, compared to the current 62.5% rule, so that they remain duty free. It also requires that more parts of a vehicle be manufactured by employees who earn at least US $ 16 per hour.

Before agreeing to adopt the legislation implementing the agreement, the Democrats of Congress negotiated with the United States Trade Representative, Robert Lighthizer, for months behind closed doors to add additional labor and environmental standards, as well as more concrete enforcement mechanisms. . The Democrats, led by the president of Ways and Means, Richard Neal, also managed to eliminate a patent protection provision for biological medicines that, they argued, put the interests of pharmaceutical companies over that of consumers.

The bill was approved Tuesday by the Neal commission.

"The agreement that was originally sent to Congress was light years away from what we are considering today," said Democratic representative Mike Thompson of California, who was involved in the discussions of the working group with Lighthizer

Many Democrats argued that with the new changes, the T-MEC is better than the original NAFTA. Even New Jersey Democratic representative Bill Pascrell, who voted against withdrawing the agreement from the commission, said some "progress" had been made.

But he disagreed with the process and the notion of giving Trump an unnecessary victory.

"By advancing in the approval of a new NAFTA in a hurry, the House makes it clear that the solution was in the beginning and is accelerating the way for a victory party at the White House," said Pascrell, one of the opponents more members in Congress of the original agreement. “Everyone involved in this process, more or less, has worked hard to get a positive result. And nobody can question that we have advanced in this document, which is the direct result of our great effort. ”

But he said: "It's not good enough."

Other progressives were comforted by the fact that the agreement received rare support from the AFL-CIO, the largest federation of unions in the United States. The labor groups applauded the changes that the Democrats achieved in the pact, including an inter-institutional committee that will oversee the implementation of Mexico's labor reform and compliance with labor obligations. Also, for the first time in any US commercial agreement. In the US, it allows “quick response” panels to check whether specific facilities are violating workers' rights and apply tariffs or penalties on products manufactured in those facilities.

Democrats also negotiated new measures that will facilitate the application of environmental regulations by eliminating the requirement to demonstrate that a violation affects trade. The agreement provides US $ 600 million to address environmental problems in the region, such as Tijuana wastewater spills that affect San Diego.

Moderate Democrats, especially several new lawmakers from the districts that Trump won in 2016, had urged the House of Representatives president, Nancy Pelosi, for several months to present the agreement to vote by the end of the year. Democrats expect the vote to give lawmakers a political outcome that is tangible to many Americans – and less divisive than political judgment – to talk about while they are in their districts.

. (tagsToTranslate) T-MEC (t) USMCA

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