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News >  Washington

Cantwell lauds new North American trade pact

UPDATED: Thu., Jan. 16, 2020

U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash. (Ted S. Warren / AP)
U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash. (Ted S. Warren / AP)

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell praised the new trade deal with Canada and Mexico approved by the Senate on Thursday, saying it would help strengthen the country’s trade partners and open up new sales north of the border for Washington-produced wine.

That includes providing assistance to Mexico in bolstering its legal system and educating workers on their rights under new labor laws, something Cantwell said was argued for by labor and Democrats and runs counter to some of the messaging that’s come out of the White House in recent years.

“Going to Mexico and saying, “We’ll help you, and we’ll give you some money,” this is a little different than building a wall,” Cantwell said in an interview Thursday as the trade deal was approved.

The Senate passed the negotiated measure 89 to 10, and Cantwell played a role in negotiations and selling the agreement as the senior member of the Senate Finance Committee. She said the agreement, which Trump is expected to sign – after also approving a new trade pact with China earlier this week – is in step with her trade philosophy of opening up commerce to as many partners as possible.

“I feel like, when you show people economic opportunity, you will help stabilize a region and give them opportunity,” said Cantwell, who in the past has pushed for trade deals in places such as Colombia, Afghanistan and Pakistan in an effort to bolster political and socioeconomic conditions.

The agreement has earned the backing of major industry and labor lobbies, a truce that Cantwell said was particularly encouraging and showed the strength of the measure. The deal also includes a pledge for British Columbia grocers to stock wine produced in the United States, a victory for the Northwest’s wine producers, Cantwell said.

“We don’t drink, per capita, as much as they do,” Cantwell said. “In this agreement, it forces them to give us shelf space.”

The region’s lawmakers voted with Cantwell in supporting the trade agreement Thursday, with yes votes from Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, as well as Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch of Idaho.

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