MEXICO CITY — The Mexican Senate approved a new North American trade agreement on Wednesday, making Mexico the first country to ratify a deal that President Trump has touted as his signature trade achievement.
“Mexico takes the lead, with clear signals that our economy is open,” Jesús Seade, Mexico’s top trade negotiator, wrote on Twitter, celebrating the Senate’s approval of the bill. “We trust that our partners will soon do the same thing in the interest of a strong North America, with clear rules, that is stable, competitive and attractive for investment.”
The accord, known as the United States Mexico Canada Agreement, was signed late last year by the leaders of the three countries. For it to go into effect, it has to be approved by the legislatures of all three countries.
The path to approval has been bumpiest in Washington, where Democrats in Congress have raised concerns over Mexico’s enforcement of labor rights and environmental law — and smoothest in Mexico, where the president has described the accord as a guarantee of stability for his country’s economy.
The enthusiasm of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico for the agreement marks a sharp reversal of his longstanding opposition to free trade and a surprising turnaround for a politician who has railed against Mexico’s free market policies in the past.
The new agreement updates the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement, which has brought the Mexican and American economies closer and made Mexican factories a crucial part of American production lines.
Mexico surpassed Canada to become the United States’ largest trading partner and the largest market for American goods earlier this year. About $1.7 billion in goods cross the United States-Mexico border daily in both directions.
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