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U.S. trade rep says he hopes Congress can approve USMCA legislation 'very soon'

June 18 (Reuters) - The North American trade pact renegotiated under President Donald Trump is a “watershed development” for labor that will reduce incentives to outsource jobs, the U.S. Trade Representative said in prepared remarks to lawmakers on Tuesday.

USTR Robert Lighthizer at a hearing of the U.S. Senate Finance committee continued his bid for lawmakers to prepare to ratify the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

Democratic lawmakers, who took control of the House of Representatives in the 2018 election, have said that they want to see changes to the agreement. That could prove a major hurdle for the administration of Donald Trump in for first freshly-negotiated trade deal under Trump as the president heads into the 2020 presidential election cycle.

The hearing also marks the first time the chief U.S. negotiator has testified before lawmakers since immediately after talks with China broke down in May. Comments about China were noticeably absent from Lighthizer’s prepared remarks.

The U.S. government is pushing for wide-ranging economic and trade reforms from Beijing. President Donald Trump said on Thursday that he would meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 summit later this month and that trade talks between the two countries were set to restart ahead of time. (Reporting by Chris Prentice Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)