President Donald Trump on Jan. 29 signed the implementing language for the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) into law, leaving Canadian ratification as the last hurdle for the pact that would reduce nontariff barriers for agricultural goods between the three North American countries.
USMCA passed overwhelmingly in the Senate on Jan. 16 by a bipartisan vote of 89-10, following the House’s 385-41 bipartisan vote in December.
“The USMCA is the largest, most significant, modern, and balanced trade agreement in history. All of our countries will benefit greatly,” Trump said in an official statement.
Mexico’s legislature approved USMCA in 2018, and the Canadian Parliament is expected approve the accord this spring. The agreement takes effect 90 days after all three countries approve it. Of particular benefit to the U.S. grain, feed and processing industry, USMCA significantly would reduce non-tariff trade barriers between the three countries. It includes a concept proposed by NGFA and the North American Export Grain Association (NAEGA) that obligates parties to provide notice and begin the process of resolving sanitary and phytosanitary issues associated with agricultural imports within five calendar days, as well as improved dispute-settlement procedures. The accord also contains comprehensive agricultural biotechnology provisions that should enhance coordinated regulatory policies toward all forms of biotech, including emerging gene-editing techniques, and development of low-level presence policies to facilitate trade in situations where a biotech trait has been approved by the exporting country, but not yet by the importing nation.
No Democrats were invited to the signing of the trade pact on the South Lawn of the White House, prompting some House lawmakers to issue statements about their role in forming the final language of the trade deal.
“House Democrats are the reason President Trump had a USMCA signing ceremony today,” House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., said. “Perhaps we were not invited to today’s event on the South Lawn because our presence would be a prominent reminder of our critical leadership in achieving this deal.”
For his part, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer acknowledged Democrats in a statement. “I would also personally like to thank the members of Congress – Republicans and Democrats – who worked so hard on this agreement,” Lighthizer said. “Not just last year, but during the course of the negotiations they also were involved every step of the way. They made this a bipartisan success.”