A modernized North American trade pact officially took effect last week, providing some continuity for manufacturers and agriculture.
Reuters says the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement is facing multiple disputes that still need to be resolved, exposing cracks in what was supposed to be a stronger North American “fortress of competitiveness.” The deal takes effect with all three countries mired in a COVID-inspired recession. April trade flow of goods between the countries is normally about $1.2 trillion every year, but the disease cut trade to its lowest monthly level in ten years.
The Trump Administration is currently threatening to implement new tariffs on aluminum imports from Canada. Issues currently nagging at the USMCA also include hundreds of legal challenges to Mexico’s new labor laws that ensure workers can freely organize and grant unions full collective bargaining rights. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer calls the agreement the most “far-reaching” trade agreement in history.
However, he also says he won’t hesitate to file dispute cases “early and often” to enforce USMCA provisions. He says Mexico’s failure to approve U.S. biotech products is an example.
Today, the U.S-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) officially enters into force, a culmination of years of work to update and improve the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), offering partners improved agricultural market access and freer, fairer trade between the countries.
“This agreement solidifies our country’s most important and strategic trade relationships with our best customers and promises further economic growth in tandem with our most-valued partners – Mexico and Canada,” said Darren Armstrong, U.S. Grains Council (USGC) chairman. “We appreciate the administration’s hard-won efforts to deliver and implement an agreement that includes significant improvements and offers more modern approaches to trade and we thank our partners in both Canada and Mexico whose efforts have been equally appreciated and fruitful.”
From negotiations to ratification, the Council worked and continues to work within the industry and with Canadian and Mexican corn, sorghum, barley, co-products and ethanol customers to ensure the needs of the U.S. grains sector are met and USMCA will build on the success the U.S. experienced under NAFTA.
“We often hosted Mexican buyers to the United States, sent U.S. farmers on missions to Mexico and have continued to market the importance of our trade relationships with our stakeholders in both countries,” said Armstrong. “Both the Council’s leaders and members are very pleased to see USMCA enter into force today and look forward to many prosperous years for our country’s farmers and those in Mexico and Canada.”