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Mexico sends North America free trade deal to lawmakers

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"The documents will be delivered to the Senate today to begin the process of ratifying the agreement," President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador told a press conference.

[MEXICO CITY] Mexico's government said on Thursday it was sending the revised North American free trade deal with Canada and the United States to Congress, as Washington initiated its ratification process.

"The documents will be delivered to the Senate today to begin the process of ratifying the agreement," President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador told a press conference.

That came one day after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau presented the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) to parliament.

The Mexican economy ministry had called on US President Donald Trump to follow suit, reminding Washington of the stakes: more than US$1 trillion a year in trilateral trade.

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"Given that context, it is important that President Trump's administration send the US Congress the legislation to implement the USMCA and related documents," it said in a statement.

Shortly afterwards, Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic speaker of the House, said the Trump administration had launched the ratification process.

After a year of tough negotiation following Mr Trump's criticism of the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) - the deal that has bound their economies for the past 25 years - the three countries signed the new pact in November, revamping rules on manufacturing, digital commerce and labour rights, among other sectors.

But the deal could face an uphill battle in the US House of Representatives, now controlled by Mr Trump's Democratic opponents, who continue to have concerns about Mexican workers' wages and rights, dispute resolution, and other issues.

The deal also risks getting caught up in electoral politics in the United States, as the long campaign for the 2020 presidential election gains steam.

Ratification is all but guaranteed in Canada and Mexico, where Mr Trudeau's and Mr Lopez Obrador's respective parties hold legislative majorities.

In Mexico, the agreement will have to go through three Senate committees: foreign affairs, economy and North American relations.

After that, however, "a simple majority vote wins approval, so we're sure it will pass the Senate" and be ratified, Mr Lopez Obrador said.

The deal is crucial for Mexico, which has become a major exporter under Nafta - with 80 per cent of its exports going to the United States.

AFP