Mexican Senate ratifies changes to USMCA trade pact

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MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico’s Senate voted Thursday to approve the modifications negotiated this week to the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, known as the USMCA.

The Senate vote of 107 to 1 gave approval to increased enforcement of labor and environmental rules.

The vote clears the way for a revamped version of the 25-year-old North American free trade agreement to take effect, after the U.S. and Canada ratify the modifications.

Mexico agreed to dispute resolution panels to ensure its workers can organize and demand better wages.

Democrats in the U.S. Congress have hailed the changes. In the past, corrupt Mexican unions have signed low-wage contracts behind workers’ backs. Critics say Mexico’s low wages have played a big role in luring manufacturing jobs south, especially in the auto industry.

Mexico has reformed its labor laws to guarantee secret-ballot votes on union representation and contracts. The new panels will aim at making sure those rules are enforced.

The modifications also increase regional content requirements for steel, with a seven-year phase-in period.

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