US Democratic leader says issues remain on USMCA trade deal

Washington (AFP) –


Despite removing a key sticking point on the new North American free trade pact, issues remain before Congress will vote to approve it, a top Democratic leader said Tuesday.

President Donald Trump last agreed to remove contentious tariffs on steel and aluminum imported from Mexico and Canada but Congressman Steny Hoyer of Maryland said Democrats continue to have concerns about workers' rights, dispute resolution and other issues in the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

"We're not there yet," Hoyer, who is the House majority leader, told reporters. "We'd like to get to a yes."

The three countries agreed on a revised free trade pact late last year after months of negotiations but Ottawa and Mexico City said they would not ratify the deal unless the steel and aluminum tariffs were removed.

US congressional leaders from both parties also demanded the tariffs end before they would approve the trade pact.

Trump has hailed the USMCA as a major improvement over the 24-year-old NAFTA which he derided as the worst deal ever.

US labor unions also have been skeptical that the new agreement resolves concerns over workers' rights in Mexico.