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Mexican Senate approves changes to North American trade deal

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's Senate on Thursday overwhelmingly approved the revised U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) trade deal that includes tougher enforcement of worker rights and the elimination of a patent provision for biologic drugs.

Senators approved the changes to USMCA, which was signed more than a year ago to replace the decades-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), by a vote of 107-1.

"In Mexico, we did our part. The executive (branch) signed and the Senate ratified the USMCA. Now it is up to the congresses of the United States and Canada to do the same. This is good news," Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said.

In a rare show of bipartisan and cross-border cooperation in the Trump era of global trade conflicts, top officials from Canada, Mexico and the United States signed the new overhaul of the quarter-century-old NAFTA on Tuesday.

Democrats controlling the U.S. House of Representatives had insisted on major changes to labor and environmental enforcement in USMCA before bringing it to a vote in the U.S. Congress.

The ratification process is complete in Mexico, but USMCA is not expected to be ratified in the United States or Canada until early next year.

Once it passes into law in the three countries, USMCA will encompass $1.2 trillion in annual trade across the continent and support 12 million U.S. jobs and a third of American agricultural exports, its backers say.

"As President Lopez Obrador stresses, Mexico has completed its ratification of USMCA in our Senate, by a very handsome 107-1 vote. It is now your turn in the U.S. and in Canada to vote up this great agreement for performance, jobs and living standards throughout our region," Mexico's chief negotiator, Jesus Seade, said.

(Reporting by Anthony Esposito; Editing by Peter Cooney and Leslie Adler)

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