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June 19, 2019 4:45 PM, EDT

Mexico’s Senate Ratifies USMCA Amid Trump Tariff Cease-Fire

Mexico President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador speaks during a rally in Tijuana, Mexico, on June 8. Lopez Obrador and U.S. President Donald Trump struck a deal on migration earlier this month. (Associated Press/Eduardo Verdugo)

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Mexico’s Senate ratified a North American trade deal with the U.S. and Canada, becoming the first to do so amid a truce reached with President Donald Trump over an unrelated tariff threat.

American Trucking Associations President and CEO Chris Spear lauded the move by the United States' southern neighbor.

"Mexico's action in ratifying the USMCA is a critical step forward in putting this important trade agreement in place," Spear said in a June 20 statement. "Ensuring free and fair trade with our closest neighbors is critical to the trucking industry, which moves $772.3 billion worth of goods across our borders with Mexico and Canada. Trade with these two countries alone supports nearly 90,000 Americans in trucking-related jobs and generates $12.62 billion in revenue for our industry."

American Trucking Associations President and CEO Chris Spear

Spear

The vote took place during a special session less than a month after President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador sent the accord to the Senate. Lawmakers voted 114-4 to approve it, with three abstentions. The U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement had been signed by leaders of the three nations in November and is awaiting legislative votes.

"We encourage Congress to move forward on ratifying this important agreement so all three nations may continue to share in the benefits that trade creates," Spear said in the statement.

USMCA, as the deal is called, modernizes but doesn’t fundamentally change NAFTA. Trump had threatened to impose tariffs on all goods from Mexico if it doesn’t stop illegal border crossings, risking derailing the accord’s ratification earlier this month. But it’s back on track after Mexico struck a deal with him on migration, and he dropped the threat, for now.

“No international accord is ideal,” Mexican Sen. Hector Vasconcelos, who heads the foreign relations committee, said before the vote. “What’s important is that each participant finds advantages in them.”

Mexico had originally planned to ratify the USMCA in tandem with Canada and the U.S., but Lopez Obrador requested swift approval of the deal.

U.S. House Democrats, which hold a majority, are likely to seek changes to the deal before they approve it. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said June 18 he’s committed to working with Democrats on changes.

Transport Topics staff reporters contributed to this article