Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau to Visit DC to Lobby for USMCA

June 19, 2019 by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives in the nation’s capital Wednesday evening to begin a busy 24 hours lobbying for U.S. passage of the USMCA trade deal.

The prime minister will attend a reception hosted by David MacNaughton, Canada’s ambassador to the United States, Wednesday night, and then meet with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and President Trump on Thursday.

In a statement released ahead of the trip, Trudeau said “Canadians and Americans are better off when we work together to grow the middle class and create new opportunities on both sides of the border.

“I look forward to meeting with President Trump to discuss the ratification of the new NAFTA, and how we can continue to strengthen our vital trade and economic partnership,” he said.

One of Trudeau’s primary objectives in visiting Washington is to get a first-hand sense of the outlook for the new North American trade deal on Capitol Hill, according to a Canadian official familiar with the details of the trip.

With the Canadian Parliament set to adjourn soon, Trudeau has to decide whether to push the body for a last-minute vote on Canada’s USMCA implementation bill. If the prime minister were to do so, he’d be asking Canadian lawmakers to bless the deal without knowing how the Trump administration might amend it to address the concerns of House Democrats.

The Mexican Senate, which has already taken up the trade deal, could have it ratified by next week.

If it is approved by all three countries, the USMCA would replace the 1993 North American Free Trade Agreement. But in the U.S., House Speaker Pelosi has objected to the deal, saying it lacks adequate mechanisms to enforce its labor and environmental provisions, or rein in the cost of prescription drugs.

As speaker, Pelosi is under no obligation to bring the USMCA up for a vote until her concerns are addressed. Under current rules, the earliest the USMCA could pass in a House vote, should one be allowed, would be in the second week of July.

In the meantime, Pelosi has agreed to establish four working groups of lawmakers to meet with the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office to try to hammer out a solution.

Canada and the United States share one of the largest and most comprehensive economic partnerships in the world.

A fact sheet distributed by the Canadian prime minister’s office notes that bilateral merchandise trade between the two countries increased 5.7 percent to $742.9 billion in 2018, and that Canada buys more goods from the United States than China, Japan, and the United Kingdom combined.

In fact it says, more than $2.6 billion worth of goods and services cross the U.S.-Canadian border daily.

At the same time, the U.S. is the single greatest investor in Canada. In 2018, U.S. stock investment in Canada was $406 billion, representing nearly half of all investment in Canada.

Trade between NAFTA members—Canada, the United States, and Mexico—was valued at nearly $1.5 trillion in 2018, the fact sheet said.

In addition to discussing the new North American Free Trade Agreement, Trudeau and Trump are also expected to exchange thoughts on key global challenges in preparation for the upcoming G20 Osaka Summit.

The summit, which is being held June 28-29, 2019, at the International Exhibition Center in Osaka, is the first-ever G20 meeting to be hosted in Japan.

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