December 10, 2019 / 11:56 PM / 8 months ago

Canada says it wants to ratify USMCA pact as soon as possible, gives no details

Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland speaks during a meeting at the Presidential Palace, in Mexico City, Mexico December 10, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso

(Reuters) - Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said on Tuesday it was in Canada’s interests to ratify the revamped U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade deal as soon as possible but did not elaborate on the government’s strategy for securing its passage.

Earlier in the day, Freeland and her counterparts signed an overhaul of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) in a bid to win U.S. ratification of the deal. Ottawa says it wants to act in tandem with Washington when it comes to formal approval.

“It is in Canada’s interests to ratify (the agreement) as quickly as possible,” Freeland told a televised news conference in Mexico City. She did not give details and a spokeswoman for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declined to comment when asked about the Liberal government’s plans for winning approval of the pact.

Trudeau lost his majority in an October election and must rely on opposition legislators to govern. Freeland said she had already talked to other parties and hoped they would work with the government to back the deal.

Her comments suggested the Liberals would not make a move before the House of Commons starts its winter break on Friday. Legislators are due to return on Jan. 27.

Freeland said the amendments approved on Tuesday would “ensure that rules-based trade between our three countries will continue to support the economic prosperity of all of our people and the global competitiveness of North America.”

The deal would replace the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which U.S. President Donald Trump has blamed for the loss of millions of U.S. manufacturing jobs.

The USMCA was signed more than a year ago, but Democrats controlling the U.S. House of Representatives insisted on major changes to labor and environmental enforcement before bringing it to a vote.

Reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa; Editing by Diane Craft and Peter Cooney

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