USMCA Moves One Step Closer to Replacing NAFTA

US, Mexico, and Canada flags in gear shapes behind initials USMCA
Geared for trade
Dec 11, 2019
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced yesterday that she had come to an agreement with U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Ambassador Robert Lighthizer on a revised version of the U.S.-Canada-Mexico Agreement (USMCA) text.

Since the USMCA was unveiled late last year, lawmakers have worked with the Administration through USTR on tweaks, particularly around labor and environmental policies to make it more palatable for Democrats to support.  The revisions to USMCA have been cleared by both Mexican and Canadian negotiators and now depend upon passage by both chambers of Congress and the President’s signature.

Renegotiation of the existing North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) had significant bipartisan support to update outdated provisions and incorporate language that addresses biotechnology and other issues that have crept up since first implemented in 1994.  The changes primarily benefited the dairy, poultry, and wheat commodities within the agricultural sector, but the duty-free access that U.S. rice farmers enjoy into the Canadian and Mexican markets was preserved.

“While NAFTA has certainly been a boon for the U.S. rice industry, making Mexico our top export market and Canada one of our top export markets, this renegotiation will allow our industry to continue to maintain those great relationships with our partners to the North and South,” said USA Rice President & CEO Betsy Ward.  “It is important this legislation gets passed so the Administration can turn their attention toward other trade deals in 2020, like a comprehensive agreement with Japan and a free trade agreement with the United Kingdom.”

“While I am very encouraged by [yesterday’s] breakthrough, we must not lose sight – the House and Senate need to work diligently to pass USMCA by Christmas,” said U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.

USA Rice continues to support ratification of USMCA. A vote by the House of Representatives is expected before breaking for the Christmas recess on December 20, with the Senate to follow.