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MNI UPDATE: US House's Neal and Trudeau See USMCA Ratification

--Adds Senator Grassley and Freeland comments
By Greg Quinn and Alexandra Kelley
     OTTAWA (MNI) - U.S. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal
and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau signaled optimism the USMCA trade
pact will be ratified soon, ending months of uncertainty after Mexico signed on.
     "We want to see this implemented, renewal is very important to the United
States, and I can tell you with all certainty that Speaker Pelosi is committed
to getting to yes," Neal said in Ottawa Wednesday before private meetings with
Trudeau and Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland.
     Congress should give the agreement "strong bipartisan backing," Neal said
in a statement after the meetings ended, adding there has been "significant
progress" in talks with the Trump administration. Neal's Democratic Party
colleagues are seeking answers on a few "critical questions" such as worker
protections and enforcement of labor rules, his statement said. 
     Trudeau, who lost his parliamentary majority in an Oct. 21 election, also
expressed confidence the deal will go through. Freeland in another statement
reiterated Canada will ratify "in tandem" with U.S. efforts. 
     "It's a pleasure to see the positive momentum that seems to be happening on
this renewal," Trudeau said at the photo op with Neal. "We have been working
very closely with Democrats and indeed Republicans over the past months to
ensure that we get to a good place where we have the right deal for Canada, for
the United States, and for Mexico."
     Enforcement of labor standards in in Mexico has been a major issue since
the original NAFTA trade deal in 1994. Trudeau spoke to Mexico's leader earlier
this month to receive an update on progress in USMCA ratification, a task
complicated by Trump impeachment discussions and a looming deadline for Congress
to break for the holidays.
     Senator Chuck Grassley told reporters that "everything has been very
positive from every respect" on the trade deal, citing meetings with fellow
Republicans and the statement from Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
--MNI Ottawa Bureau; +1 613-314-9647; email:
[TOPICS: M$C$$$,MC$$$$,MI$$$$]

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