Mexico accepts U.S. steel demand in USMCA deal with rider

Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard has stated, Mexico’s acceptance on U.S. demand on steel in the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement would be conditional only if the rule takes effect at least five years after the trade pact’s ratification.

Earlier this year, Mexican lawmakers approved the deal, known as USMCA, which would replace the North American Free Trade Agreement. However, Democratic lawmakers have held up the U.S. ratification over concerns on how labor and environmental provisions would be enforced.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer also made a last-minute demand to restrict the definition of what would constitute North American steel and aluminum under automotive rules of origin, calling for the metals to be “melted and poured” only in North America.

“Mexico has shared that this would bring lots of problems,” said Ebrard to reporters, while adding that Mexico’s top negotiator for for USMCA, Jesus Seade, would be travelling to Washington within hours to present Mexico’s terms.

“We will tell (the United States) that we will not accept, in any form, for this obligation to take effect the moment the treaty is ratified,” said Ebrard.

Ebrard went on to eloborate, Mexico would allow the rule for steel to be enforced but only after a period of five years; it will not accept the tighter rule for aluminum however since it does not produce the metal’s raw materials.

Incidentally, U.S. negotiators had also pushed Mexico to impose tougher controls on labor standards, including allowing U.S. inspectors to supervise their implementation in Mexico.

Reiterating the Mexican government’s rejection of that proposal, Ebrard said Mexico would allow panels composed of experts and a third party to review labor standards.

Before the USMCA becomes law, it must be passed by lawmakers in all three countries.

In a statement, Canada said it is waiting on ratification in order to move in tandem with the United States.

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