October 18, 2019 / 6:02 PM / a month ago

Global trade uncertainty a reason to ratify USMCA: Mexican minister

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Mexican Finance Minister Arturo Herrera said on Friday the current global uncertainty over trade is another reason to ratify the agreement negotiated last year between his country, the United States and Canada.

FILE PHOTO: Arturo Herrera, Mexico's new Finance Minister, speaks during a news conference in Mexico City, Mexico July 9, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso

Herrera, speaking on the sidelines of the fall meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in Washington, said a common topic during a meeting of the Group of 20 late on Thursday had been the concern about trade tensions worldwide.

The United States and China, the world’s top two economies, have been in a 15-month trade war that the IMF said is partly to blame for a sharp slowdown in global growth.

“It is clear for everybody that this is a topic of great concern and these tensions have happened at the same time in which we are seeing a cyclical slowdown of the economy,” Herrera said.

“In particular in these uncertain times it would be better to have clarity for the next 16 years,” he added, referring to a sunset clause in the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which could be extended 16 years after implementation.

The USMCA, which would replace the $1 trillion North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) still in effect, risks getting bogged down in the 2020 U.S. presidential election race if U.S. lawmakers do not ratify it soon.

“In a world that is probably facing some uncertainties for a while,” Herrera said, ratifying the USMCA “is going to help attract investments to the region.”

Mexico has already ratified the agreement, while Canada has not.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Thursday promised wage increases and funding for the implementation of labor reforms, part of a campaign to convince U.S. Democratic lawmakers to ratify the deal.

USMCA was negotiated last year after U.S. President Donald Trump said the existing NAFTA deal was unfavorable to U.S. workers and businesses.

Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; Additional reporting by Anthony Esposito in Mexico City; Editing by Paul Simao

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