This morning, on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Argentina, the United States, Canada, and Mexico signed the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). The new trade deal is slated to replace the 24-year old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Today’s signature date was a critical deadline for the parties because it is Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s last day in office before his successor, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, takes office tomorrow.
The three parties have spent the last 15 months negotiating the final text of the USMCA, with a deal reached first between the U.S. and Mexico at the end of August, and Canada signing onto the agreement with additional tweaks a month later. We have covered the USMCA in previous blog posts (here, here, here, here, and here).
Each country’s legislature must now approve the agreement for it to take effect. In the United States, the USMCA was negotiated under Trade Promotion Authority, or “fast track” legislation, meaning that the agreement is subject to an up-or-down vote and Congress cannot modify or amend the agreement itself. Instead, the hurdles involve the implementing legislation that will be required to give effect to the deal under U.S. law. The Administration has 60 days to submit to Congress a list of changes to U.S. law that will be required to implement the USMCA, and then must prepare a draft implementing bill and “statement of administrative action” at least 30 days before the bill is actually introduced in the House and Senate. The House must vote first before the bill moves to the Senate for consideration and a vote.
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