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'It's time:' Mexico urges Pelosi to act on North American trade deal

'It's time:' Mexico urges Pelosi to act on North American trade deal
Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador gestures during a news conference at the National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico, December 9, 2019. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido   -   Copyright  EDGARD GARRIDO(Reuters)
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MEXICOCITY (Reuters) – Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Monday urged U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi to make a decision about the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, saying it was time to move forward with the trade deal.

Lopez Obrador said Mexican senators accepted changes to the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) presented by the government on Sunday amid an intense back-and-forth between the countries as they hammer out final changes to satisfy U.S. Democrats’ demands.

The president said he “respectfully requests” Pelosi to take action on the deal, which was struck more than a year ago but must be ratified by legislators in the three countries before it goes into effect.

“It’s time, it’s the moment,” Lopez Obrador said during his regular morning news conference, adding that time was running short to avoid ratification of the deal spilling into next year’s U.S. presidential election race.

Mexican lawmakers earlier this year approved the USMCA, which would replace the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA. But Democratic lawmakers have held up U.S. ratification over concerns about how labour and environmental provisions would be enforced.

The United States added an additional request at the weekend, relating to how steel is identified as North American, a key part of the deal aimed at keeping more industry in the region.

In one concession, Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said on Sunday that the country would accept the U.S. demand on steel, which could affect what steel is defined as Mexican, if the rule took effect at least five years after the trade pact’s ratification.

It was not immediately clear whether the United States would accept those conditions.

Lopez Obrador stressed on Monday that Mexico was waiting on the United States to make the next move.

“We think we have already defined the terms in which we can ratify the agreement,” he said.

(Reporting by Mexico City Newsroom; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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