Finance

Warren announces support for new North American trade pact

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said Friday that she supports President Trump's renegotiated version of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which passed the Democratic-controlled House last month.

Warren, a 2020 presidential candidate, told Boston CBS affiliate WBZ that she would vote to approve the pact despite her past opposition to free trade agreements. The Senate is expected to approve Trump's proposal, called the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) as soon as this month.

Warren said Friday that the updated version of the USMCA "makes improvements" to the original NAFTA and Trump's first proposal. The White House agreed to bolster labor law enforcement provisions, scrap protections for high-cost prescription drugs and tighten environmental standards to win the overwhelming support of House Democrats.

"Workers have had the legs taken out from underneath them and this agreement makes improvements," Warren said Friday.

"It's gonna help open up some markets for farmers, they need that stability," she said. "It's gonna help with enforceable labor standards and that's gonna be useful."

Warren is among the Democratic Party's most ardent critics of free trade agreements, which she blames for the outsourcing of U.S. manufacturing jobs and exploitation of workers. The senator has also proposed using trade policy to create stronger safeguards for labor, the environment and regions of the U.S. struggling to adjust to globalization.

While Warren opposed Trump's initial USMCA proposal, she joined a slew of trade hawks and labor unions to endorse an updated version following talks between the White House and House Democrats. Several of her 2020 primary competitors have also voiced support for USMCA, including former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.).

Warren's support for USMCA also marks another contrast with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), her biggest obstacle to cementing support among progressive primary voters. Sanders said last month he would vote against USMCA, calling the agreement "a modest improvement."

"It is not going to stop outsourcing, it is not going to stop corporations from moving to Mexico, where workers make $2 an hour," Sanders said, though the deal does require Mexico to boost wages in certain sectors.

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