November 22, 2019 / 2:27 PM / 18 days ago

Mexico urges U.S. Congress not to let politics impede trade deal approval

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Friday urged U.S. lawmakers not to allow politics to hold up the approval of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) trade deal.

FILE PHOTO: Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador attends a news conference at the National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico, November 13, 2019. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

“We ask the lawmakers of the two parties, with all due respect, to help us and not to mix electoral politics with the approval of the agreement,” Lopez Obrador told reporters during a regular news conference.

Mexico’s Senate has already ratified the USMCA, a deal brokered last year between the three countries which is intended to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Neither the Canadian parliament nor the U.S. Congress has approved the deal.

U.S. President Donald Trump, a Republican, has repeatedly accused U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, of stalling a vote on the deal to avoid handing him any kind of victory.

The USMCA faces opposition from labor unions that worry it will not protect U.S. jobs.

AFL-CIO union President Richard Trumka on Friday dismissed as “laughable” comments by Trump suggesting he had scared Pelosi into blocking passage of the agreement.

“Richard Trumka ... plays her like a fiddle,” Trump told Fox New Channel’s “Fox& Friends” on Friday.

Trumka fired back at Trump on Twitter.

“The notion that anybody could play @SpeakerPelosi like a fiddle is laughable. She wants the same thing we do: an enforceable agreement that actually works for workers,” he said.

Mexico’s Economy Minister Graciela Marquez said Friday that U.S. lawmakers should not be concerned that Mexico can implement its labor reform.

Republicans worry that the prospects for ratifying the deal will fade if it drags into 2020, given the presidential election and the possibility of an impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate on whether or not Trump should be removed from office over his dealings with Ukraine.

Reporting by Stefanie Eschenbacher, Lizbeth Diaz and Andrea Shalal; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Grant McCool

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