U.S. Republican senators urge vote on new NAFTA deal this year
By David Lawder WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Twelve U.S. Republican Senators on Wednesday urged President Donald Trump to submit the deal to update the North American Free Trade Agreement to Congress for passage by year-end, before Democrats assume control of the House of Representatives. 'We are concerned that if the administration waits until next year to send to Congress a draft implementing bill, passage of the USMCA as negotiated will become significantly more difficult,' the senators, led by Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, wrote.
By David Lawder
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Twelve U.S. Republican Senators on Wednesday urged President Donald Trump to submit the deal to update the North American Free Trade Agreement to Congress for passage by year-end, before Democrats assume control of the House of Representatives.
"We are concerned that if the administration waits until next year to send to Congress a draft implementing bill, passage of the USMCA as negotiated will become significantly more difficult," the senators, led by Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, wrote.
The new U.S.-Canada-Mexico Agreement, forged in September after tense negotiations and intended as an update to the decades-old NAFTA, is due for signing by the three governments around Nov. 30. That leaves little time for a vote to occur before a newly-elected Congress takes office in January, with Democrats in control of the House of Representatives after elections earlier this month.
Some Democrats, including expected House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, have said they would demand stronger enforcement of new labour and environmental standards in the USMCA agreement.
The letter from the Republican senators argued that it was still possible for the current, Republican-led Congress to consider and vote on the USMCA deal if the White House submits a final text of the agreement before Nov. 30 and invokes a fast-track provision allowed under trade priority rules.
"These documents can be transmitted to Congress at any time, including prior to the agreement being signed, and on any calendar day," the senators wrote, adding that this would allow them to submit USMCA implementing legislation 30 days later, for passage in late December.
The USMCA text is not finalised, however. The United States has been seeking to alter the text agreed on Sept. 30 on areas such as wine and dairy, according to sources with knowledge of the talks.
Also unresolved are negotiations aimed at lifting U.S. tariffs on Canadian and Mexican steel and aluminium that have been loosely linked to the NAFTA talks, but are not part of the new trade agreement.
The "fast track" Trade Promotion Authority law sets lengthy deadlines to allow Congress to fully scrutinize trade deals before casting an up or down vote. It requires a U.S. International Trade Commission study of the deal's economic impact that could take up to 105 days after the agreement is signed.
The USMCA would also still be subject to the full committee process, and ample debate time, which would likely push consideration of the agreement well into 2019.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, a senior Republican who did not sign the letter, said passage this year was not possible, and that members were still reviewing the USMCA text.
The fast-track rule "establishes clear timelines and transparency requirements to allow for thoughtful review by members of Congress and the public," Hatch said in a statement. "Congressional consideration of USMCA this year is not realistic, but I look forward to continuing consultations with the Trump administration."
(Reporting by David Lawder, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
U.S. home sales fall as tight supply boosts prices | Reuters
France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters
By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States
China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters
BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.