Canada Suspends Parliament After Moving to Ratify New Nafta

(Bloomberg) -- Canada’s lawmakers are working to tie up loose ends in Ottawa after suspending the House of Commons on Friday, the latest step in the country’s efforts to control the spread of the coronavirus.

With Prime Minister Justin Trudeau governing from home after his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau tested positive for Covid-19, lawmakers voted unanimously to shutter the legislature until April 20. The motion included a provision that passed the new North American trade deal with the U.S. and Mexico in Canada’s lower house.

The Senate met later Friday to approve the deal, the final legislative step before formal ratification, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters in Ottawa. Canada is the final holdout on approving the deal, known as CUSMA domestically, after a year and a half of tough negotiations with President Donald Trump’s administration.

Canadian lawmakers previously voiced concerns over provisions in the new Nafta that could give the U.S. veto rights on future Canadian trade accords with other countries, as well as a new dairy export tariff and the treatment of aluminum versus steel.

The trade deal is key for Canada’s economy and regulates at least $1 trillion worth of commerce in the North American market of more than half a billion consumers.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau, under pressure to deliver more spending amid the coronavirus crisis, has been calling bank economists to get advice on potential measures to support the nation’s economy. He had been expected to deliver the budget on March 30, but that may be delayed, Rodriguez said.

The House of Commons is set to resume sitting on April 20.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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