U.S. President Donald Trump put pressure on Democrats to quickly approve the revised NAFTA by filing an official notice that gives him the right to submit the agreement to Congress after 30 days.
Trump’s move came shortly after Vice-President Mike Pence told Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa that the new agreement would be passed this year and could even be this summer. Both developments signalled the administration’s growing impatience with its negotiations with the Democrats who control the U.S. House of Representatives.
Until Thursday, Trump’s trade chief, Robert Lighthizer, had negotiated with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi without imposing any particular time pressure. However, some of Trump’s other senior advisers had asked the president to cut off the talks, submit the agreement to Congress and simply demand that Pelosi approve it even if it does not include the changes her party has sought.
The original NAFTA will stay in effect while the negotiations play out. The revised version, which Trump calls the USMCA, will only come into being if the legislatures of the U.S., Canada and Mexico all vote to ratify. Businesses around the continent are pushing for a quick ratification, saying their planning is hindered by political uncertainty.