Honduran asylum caravan has potential to trump USMCA


As Canadians await discussion of the USMCA in Parliament, United States President Donald Trump is threatening the future of the agreement over a Honduran caravan of asylum seekers heading to the U.S. border through Mexico.

With a reported 7,000 caravan riders (and growing) as it passes through Mexico, a possible showdown at the U.S./Mexico border is mounting.

“The assault on our country at our southern border, including the criminal elements and DRUGS pouring in, is far more important to me, as president, than trade or the USMCA,” Trump tweeted on October 18, 2018.

Will the Honduran caravan ruin USMCA? When asked, one person familiar with the U.S. position on USMCA swiftly replied, “No”

In his Texas campaign rally for Ted Cruz on Monday night, President Trump did not make the threat when discussing the caravan. He highlighted how great the new USMCA will be for American workers.

“If the President is getting cold feet on trade stability in North America, the immigration issues with Mexico would be a convenient supportable position from Republicans but action before the midterms in two weeks is highly unlikely,” says RealAgriculture’s Shaun Haney.

This is not the first time that immigration policy and trade have crossed swords. Going back to the beginning of the NAFTA 2.0 talks Trump threatened to make the Mexicans pay for the border wall through NAFTA which did not happen.

When are Canada and the United States intending to approve USMCA?

  • According to a Global News, the legislation (for USMCA approval) likely cannot be tabled before mid-February 2019 but could still be approved before the House of Commons rises for the last time in June 2019, though it would likely be a tight fit.
  • Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY), stated earlier this month, “there’s no chance the logistics can be worked out to ensure that the U.S.-Mexico-Canada-Agreement — or USMCA — will make it to the floor of either the Senate or House of Representatives before the end of the year, so it can be ratified by lawmakers.”

Not all Canadians are in favour of the USMCA, 45% say they are disappointed or very disappointed with the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, compared to 34% who say they are pleased or very pleased, according to the survey done by the Angus Reid Institute.

“If that same poll was asked of farmers, the in-favour would be much higher,” says Haney.

For Canadian and U.S. farmers that are export focused, the ratification of the USMCA cannot come soon enough as the game plan has been, “do no harm” since the beginning of the talks. Outside of the Canadian supply managed sectors, Canadian agriculture is very supportive of the USMCA as it stands.

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