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NAFTA has officially disappeared. Here is what has changed

The new agreement was signed by Trump and his Mexican and Canadian counterparts in 2018 and was approved by Congress earlier this year as Democrats added stronger labor rules.

He was elected by the President as a major political victory before his re-election campaign, but has since been overshadowed by coronavirus pandemics and other crises.

Most USMCA simply updates the 25-year agreement it is replacing. It is expected to create 176,000 jobs after six years and increase US GDP by 0.35%, according to a report released last year – long before the pandemic – by the US International Trade Commission, a federal government agency. By comparison, the United States added more than 152,000 jobs in January 2020 alone.
But the deal provides security for business groups and farmers who feared Trump would rip NAFTA without a new deal in place, an action he threatened several times.
The USMCA stands in stark contrast to Trump’s efforts to renegotiate trade terms with China. After more than a year of talks, a preliminary agreement signed in January does not resolve key issues with the theft of intellectual property and forced technology transfers. It leaves tariffs on billions of dollars worth of goods in the country and it is unclear whether China will keep its promise of more than double its purchases from US farmers.
Trump has chosen bilateral agreements and introduced new agreements with South Korea and Japan. He withdrew the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership of 12 countries, known as the TPP, which was negotiated by the Obama Administration.

Here are some of the key changes in USMCA:

Increase vehicle production

USMCA creates a new incentive to build cars and trucks in North America. It requires that 75% of the parts of a vehicle be made in one of the three countries – from the current 62.5% rule – so that it remains free of fees when moving between the three signatory countries.

He also wants more parts of the vehicles to be made by workers earning at least $ 16 an hour, which could provide an increase for production in the United States, where wages are higher than in Mexico.

The International Trade Commission report found that these changes would add 28,000 jobs to the industry over six years, also leading to a small increase in the price of vehicles paid by consumers. Although, a report by the Trump administration was more positive, predicting that the deal would create 76,000 automatic jobs over five years.

Labor laws were tightened in Mexico

Manufacturers have blamed NAFTA for sending jobs to Mexico, where wages are lower, and it was an advantage for Democrats for USMCA to tighten enforcement of work rules, creating a more level playing field for American workers.

Democrats struck a deal with the Trump administration to strengthen the language of implementation in the deal. The changes were able to gain the support of AFL-CIO, the largest trade union federation in the United States.

The agreement envisions an inter-institutional committee that will monitor the implementation of labor reform in Mexico and compliance with labor obligations. It also, for the first time in any U.S. trade agreement, allows “quick response” panels to examine whether specific objects violate workers’ rights and impose obligations or fines on products made on those objects.

Dairy farmers in the US have more access to the market

The original NAFTA eliminated tariffs on most agricultural products traded between the three countries. Canada and Mexico are already the two largest export markets for American farmers and ranchers.

USMCA will keep those tariffs at zero, while further opening up the Canadian market for U.S. dairy, poultry and eggs. In return, the United States will allow more Canadian dairy, peanut and peanut products, as well as a limited amount of sugar, to cross the border.

NAFTA update for the digital age

USMCA includes new benefits for the technology sector, in a chapter on digital commerce that was not part of the original NAFTA. The new provisions are not expected to directly create new jobs, but may provide an incentive for American businesses in other ways.

For example, the new trade agreement prohibits Canada and Mexico from forcing U.S. companies to store their data on servers within the country. It also ensures that American companies cannot be sued in Canada and Mexico for much of the content displayed on their platforms.

Environmental protection

The deal envisions $ 600 million to address environmental issues in the region – such as the Sijuana wastewater spills affecting San Diego – and makes it easier to enforce regulations by moving away with a request to try a breach affecting trade.

While the new bailiffs liked the new measures most Democrats did not go so far as to take environmental groups like the Sierra Club to support the deal.

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