U.S. trade deal with Canada, Mexico shows signs of faltering on Capitol Hill: Threats of canceling treaty with Mexico are as empty as the grand canyon

WASHINGTON — President Trump’s effort to rework a major trade deal with Canada and Mexico is showing signs of faltering on Capitol Hill, straining under complaints from lawmakers of both parties who won’t commit to backing the plan.

Mr. Trump reached agreement with Canada and Mexico last year to update the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement. 

But Congress must approve the deal, and the White House has been unable to mollify critics.

In the latest obstacle, key Republican senators including Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R., Iowa) have insisted that Mr. Trump lift steel and aluminum tariffs imposed on Canada and Mexico as a precondition to any congressional vote.

Mr. Grassley said Thursday that he had made the case directly to Mr. Trump at a recent meeting, but the President refused to budge. 

Mr. Grassley predicted Mr. Trump would have no choice but to give in if he wants the North American Free Trade Agreement replacement deal to advance.

“The tariffs are going to come off because the President has a good agreement,” Mr. Grassley said. 

“It’s just a matter of his realizing that nothing’s going to happen until the tariffs go off. And so the tariffs come off if he wants to get a win.”

White House advisers, including U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, are refusing to cancel the tariffs until Canada and Mexico accept quotas on their metals exports. 

The tariffs were imposed last year in response to a flood of Chinese steel that depressed global prices and dented the fortunes of American steelmakers. 

The Trump Administration now wants quotas as a fallback defense against shipments from China making their way to the U.S. market via Canada or Mexico.

For Canada, too, the tariffs are the biggest sticking point to consideration of a deal. 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government, weakened by domestic political controversy, faces voters in October. 

The revised trade deal would require more automobile components to be assembled in North America to avoid import penalties, impose higher wage provisions, open up Canada’s dairy sector, and include stricter rules for intellectual property and Internet commerce.

Support from House Democrats would be crucial for the new trade deal to advance, but they have raised a host of issues. 

Some liberals have said the deal is a nonstarter because of a provision related to prescription drugs — a stance that has irked fellow Democrats who are more oriented toward free trade.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) can single-handedly determine the pact’s fate by deciding whether to put it to a vote. 

She said she needs to see stronger enforcement provisions in the deal before agreeing to embrace it.

“We need to see enforcement. I’ve said it all along. It’s no mystery,” Ms. Pelosi said. 

Ms. Pelosi is referring to a common complaint from Democrats and labor groups, which is that they want to know what specific penalties Mexico and Canada might face if they flout the rules.

The unresolved issues have left the process up in the air. 

White House officials have said they will work with lawmakers to try to address concerns, but they rule out reopening the trade deal to satisfy Democrats’ demands for tougher labor, environmental, and enforcement provisions, because identical versions must be approved by Mexico and Canada.

If U.S. lawmakers don’t eventually pass the deal, Mr. Trump has threatened to try to terminate the existing NAFTA, a prospect that concerns lawmakers from both parties and the business community.

“I don’t think trying to jam Congress is a good idea,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R., Texas).

He said the deal currently doesn’t command the votes to pass, partly because of the tariff issue. 

But Trump Administration officials are in the middle of several trade-related fights elsewhere, and it’s unclear how much time they have been willing to devote to the Canada and Mexico deal. 

Mr. Trump declared victory on the Mexico and Canada talks last year, when he notched a tentative agreement with leaders from both countries, but the deal is not complete until it is ratified by Congress.

In the House, liberals have coalesced against provisions codifying exclusive rights to a class of drugs known as biologics for 10 years, something they say makes the entire deal a nonstarter.

At the same time, administration efforts to woo organized labor thus far have fallen short.

EMPTY THREATS?

With the trade deal faltering in the U.S. Congress and not likely to be ratified.

Trump uses the threat of canceling the signing of the Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada unless Mexico stops Central America migrants to U.S border?

Jared Kushner came to Mexico to bring an “urgent” message and an ultimatum from his father-in-law, President Donald Trump , who personally informed President  Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard  at the dinner on March 19 at a private home. : that in the face of the “overflowing” crisis of illegal migrants arriving in the United States, if the Mexican government did not “immediately” stop the flow of migrants through its territory, the White House was not only going to completely close the border with Mexico , but that it would cancel the signing of the Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada, the T-MEC, in retaliation for the total inaction of the lopezobradorista administration, which is overrun with the issue of migration.

A week after that dinner at the Televisa executives’ house, on Monday, March 25, at the meeting of the Security Cabinet very early in the National Palace, the issue broke out and there was a crisis: the president decided there, after asking for a balance urgent to Secretary  Olga Sánchez Cordero  about the migratory crisis, the numbers of migrants who are in Mexico and the records of how many have managed to reach and cross the border with the United States, that the Migration policy, with all its strategies, institutions and decisions , it would no longer be handled in the Ministry of the Interior and that from now on it will be the Ministry of Foreign Affairs , headed by Marcelo Ebrard , which will decide how the migrant crisis will be resolved,that has surpassed the Mexican State and that motivates Trump’s threats.

With everything and that decision, the government could not avoid that this week, in his aggressive Twitter messages and speeches,  Donald Trump made public the threat that Kushner had already communicated privately to the president and his chancellor. “Mexico is not doing ANYTHING to help stop the flow of illegal migrants to our country, it’s a lot of words and little action,” Trump tweeted at dawn on Thursday 28, in a message where he made the first threat: ” We can close the border south . ” Then, a day later, during a speech in Michigan, the tone was even more threatening : “We are going to close the damn border next week,” he said , once again accusing of inaction and of benefiting from the US economy to Mexico.

The response of the Mexican government, before such threats, was an “I respect the position of President Trump” and a “zafo, as the youth say, we will not fight” by López Obrador , while Ebrard, answered with a tweet:

“Mexico does not act on the basis of threats and we are the best neighbor that the United States can have.”

Will Lopez Obrador’s evasiveness and the Chancellor’s most direct response in social networks be enough to contain Trump’s wrath and his political and electoral attack against illegal migration now that he knows he is qualified and strong to seek presidential re-election in 2020?

Alarm situation for EU, alerted Kushner

And is that the criticized dinner “in the dark,” that the president wanted to minimize and downplay, both in substance and in form – “they told me and I decided and so, so” – yes there was a pressing message from Jared Kushner , a kind of “ultimatum” sent by his father-in-law: the last figures of illegal migrants who have crossed into the United States through the border with Mexico, he told them – 76 thousand undocumented last February , the highest number of the last 12 years, according to the last report of Home Land Security of March 6– are for us a “national security alert situation”, and if Mexico does not want or can not contain the illegal migratory flow through its southern border and its territory,President Trump could take“Drastic measures” such as closing the border and canceling the entry into force of theT- MEC , warned the son-in-law sent from the White House .

In the vision of Washington, which is not far from reality, the migratory crisis that began in the last months of President Peña Nieto , who did not want to do anything to stop it, was aggravated to historical and chaotic levels in the current administration of López Obrador . The same secretary Olga Sánchez, declared this week that this month could reach 100 thousand undocumented migrants in Mexican territory. It is as if the southern border of Mexico had been diluted and, in terms of security and migratory control has disappeared, to give way to massive entry into Mexico and free transit through its territory not only to tens of thousands of Central Americans, but also to Africans, Arabs and illegal migrants of the most diverse nationalities of which the Mexican government does not even have an exact and precise record and control.

It is in this logic that Trump sent, first in private and before the inaction now in public, the idea of ​​a “total closure” of its southern border, which would be chaotic for the commercial exchange of people and goods and products on the border North of mexico. For the White House , before the elimination, in fact, of the Mexican southern border, the only line of contention for its national security and to stop the illegal migration that is growing to its territory would be its border with Mexico.

Will the López Obrador government be aware of the terrible impact that a total or partial closure of the border crossings with the United States would have for millions of Mexicans living in the Northern Border?

That is not to mention the millionaire affectations to the country’s export industry and the lethal blow that the border closures and the lethal blow to the economy and national exports could have if the other part of Trump’s threat to avoid the entry into force of the new Free Trade Agreement.

We will see if the hand of Foreign Minister  Marcelo Ebrard , now in charge of the migration policy of the country, which enters as “fireman” to stop and resolve the crisis that left the government of Peña Nieto and could not handle the Segob de Sanchez Cordero , can do something concrete and immediate that calms the electoral wrath of Trump and that avoids that his threats that would bring chaos and instability to the country and a mortal blow to the nascent Fourth Transformation are fulfilled.

Source: e consulta, washington post, notimex, arestegui

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