Mexico has become the first country to ratify the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s administration submitted the required texts for Mexican lawmakers to approve the deal less than three weeks ago. Mexico’s undersecretary for foreign affairs Jesús Seade wrote on Twitter: “USMCA passes! Mexico goes first with clear signal that our economy is open. We’re confident that our partners will soon do the same.”
Mexico’s Senate backed the trade deal by an overwhelming majority, with 114 Senators voting in favor and four against. There were three abstentions and seven senators were not present for the vote. Three of the four votes against the deal came from leftist National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) senators, as did one abstention. The other vote against the agreement was from an independent senator. Two members of the center-right National Action Party (PAN) also abstained.
The deal will update trade rules for one of the world’s largest trade blocs. The three countries intend for USMCA to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). NAFTA has transformed the North American economy over the past 25 years. Census data released in April showed that Mexico’s trade with the United States was $97.4 billion for the first two months of 2019, ahead of Canada, at $92.4 billion, and China, at $90.4 billion. Mexico sends about 80 percent of its exports to the United States.
If the trade agreement isn’t ratified this year, the U.S. presidential campaign next year may cause further delays. U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration is pushing for the U.S. Congress to approve the deal this summer. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) hasn’t set a date for a ratification vote. Canadian officials have expressed a desire to approve the deal at roughly the same time as any final votes are held in the U.S. Congress.