North America trade agreement coming into force in July, U.S. says



The United States–Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) will come into force on July 1, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said Friday in a notification to the U.S. Congress.

The revised USMCA replaces the 26-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which President Donald Trump has claimed took advantage of U.S. businesses.

“The USMCA’s entry into force marks the beginning of a historic new chapter for North American trade by supporting more balanced, reciprocal trade, leading to freer markets, fairer trade, and robust economic growth in North America,” the U.S. Trade office said in a statement.

The revised deal includes stricter labour rules which could move jobs from Mexico to the two countries in the north, along with tougher country-of-origin provisions.

The new deal also includes fresh rules on digital commerce and technology which was not around at the time NAFTA was inked.

NAFTA was long controversial, amid accusations by labour unions and some economic populists that it killed certain well-paying jobs in the U.S., even as it boosted overall economic output and created new employment opportunities.

Canada was the last country to ratify the deal, which happened in mid-March as the parliament closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The USMCA was signed more than a year ago by the leaders of the three countries, having been primarily championed by Trump who campaigned against NAFTA in 2016.

But passage was delayed in the U.S. Congress until a breakthrough among lawmakers. (dpa/NAN)