The USMCA is the cornerstone of North America’s economic future and reflects the continued evolution of trade policy in response to contemporary challenges. This agreement, revised with historic worker and environmental protections coupled with new and improved enforcement tools, came after an intensive renegotiation process with Canada and Mexico involving a wide range of stakeholders on both sides.
Sustained bipartisan engagement here in the United States led to a final, renegotiated USMCA that won strong levels of support in Congress not seen since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Dozens of groups, including the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), the United States Chamber of Commerce, the Catholic Social Justice NETWORK Lobby, and state and local leaders in across the country finally approved the new agreement.
The overwhelming support for the USMCA creates a solid foundation for the sustainability of the Accord. Full implementation and enforcement of the USMCA are top priorities for the Biden-Harris administration and a key part of a worker-centered trade policy.
The Agreement reflects the United States’ commitment to raising wages and empowering workers, and it recognizes that workers and producers are at the heart of creating more productive and competitive North American economies.
The USMCA will help North America meet the challenges of the 21st century and facilitate a robust and just pandemic recovery.
Labor and environmental obligations, the strictest of any trade agreement, are fully enforceable thanks to new tools and mechanisms that we actively employed in 2021. These include the obligation to identify and prohibit imports of goods produced by forced labour. This demonstrates North America’s leadership in eliminating this practice from our supply chains as a moral imperative and a condition of fair economic competition.
The groundbreaking Rapid Response Mechanism gives the United States the opportunity to proactively support labor justice reform efforts in Mexico and empower workers in Mexico and the United States at the same time. In May 2021, the United States itself launched enforcement action under a trade agreement for the first time in history. We resolved another issue that resulted in severance and back pay for Mexican workers and a commitment to neutrality in future union elections.
Our actions are aimed at leading a race to the top in trade and raising regional labor standards. But our commitment to workers and producers does not end with the rapid response mechanism.
Earlier this year, the United States won the first dispute settlement panel under the Agreement, which considered whether Canada’s allocation of its dairy TRQs undermined the ability US exporters to sell a wide range of dairy products to Canadian consumers. Achieving this historic victory will ensure that U.S. dairy farmers will fully benefit from the USMCA to market and sell their products in Canada – a promise essential to gaining agricultural and rural stakeholder support for the USMCA.
Importantly, the USMCA will help North America meet the challenges of the 21st century and facilitate a robust and just pandemic recovery. Critical changes to intellectual property provisions will help promote access to affordable medicines for all. The Agreement’s conservation commitments will also contribute to North America’s sustainability and resilience efforts.
The Agreement also confronts non-market practices from countries outside the region that force our workers and businesses to compete on unequal terms. The three countries have agreed to important provisions regarding state-owned enterprises and currency manipulation. We are also committed to fighting efforts to undermine existing anti-dumping, countervailing and safeguard measures.
In approving the USMCA, Congress presented a vision for the continued implementation and monitoring of the terms of the agreement. The $180 million authorized over four years will support labor reforms in Mexico through technical assistance and bolster U.S. efforts to monitor and enforce the environmental obligations of the agreement. This funding has already led to better intelligence sharing and increased capacity to combat the illegal taking and trade of flora and fauna. It also supported new collaboration with Mexico and Canada on sustainable forest management, sustainable fisheries management and marine species conservation.
There’s a lot to celebrate as the USMCA’s second anniversary approaches, but the work of implementation has only just begun. We must use the new tools of the Agreement to effectively resolve our trade disputes and honor the commitments made to each other. In 2022, we will work together to support regional workforce development and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) while identifying ways to increase the resilience of our supply chains, tackle forced labor , to protect the environment and to fight against the damage caused by public companies. businesses.
The Biden-Harris administration has pledged to use the USMCA as a model to show how trade deals can put workers and their interests first. Over the next few years, it will be essential that the United States, Mexico, and Canada continue their close cooperation to ensure that the USMCA remains a living agreement that delivers inclusive economic growth and expands our collective prosperity.