On June 19, 2019, Mexico became the first of the three involved countries to ratify the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement (USMCA), which is intended to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). In a nearly unanimous vote, Mexico’s Senate approved the trade agreement. The bill will now be sent to the Mexican executive branch for

The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) has released its report assessing the likely impact of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) on the U.S. economy as a whole and on specific industry sectors and the interests of U.S. consumers. The report, United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement: Likely Impact on the U.S. Economy and Specific Industry Sectors (Investigation No. TPA-105-003, USITC Publication 4889, April 2019), was prepared at the request of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) and required by the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015.

In preparing its report, the USITC investigated the USMCA’s expected impact on the U.S. gross domestic product; exports and imports; aggregate employment and employment opportunities; and the production, employment and competitive position of industries likely to be significantly affected by the agreement. On its website, the USITC listed these main findings:

  • The elements of the USMCA that would have the most significant effects on the U.S. economy are: (1) provisions that reduce policy uncertainty about digital trade; and (2) certain new rules of origin applicable to the automotive sector. The report also notes that for many industry sectors, particularly services industries, the USMCA’s new international data transfer provisions should be of interest, including provisions that largely prohibit forced localization of computing facilities and restrictions on cross-border data flows.
  • Because NAFTA has already eliminated duties on most qualifying goods and significantly reduced nontariff measures, the USMCA’s emphasis is on reducing remaining nontariff measures on trade and the U.S. economy; addressing other issues that affect trade, such as workers’ rights; harmonizing regulations from country to country; and deterring certain potential future trade and investment barriers.
  • The USMCA would strengthen and add complexity to the rules of origin requirements in the automotive sector by increasing regional value content (RVC) requirements. The USMCA’s requirements on this matter are estimated to increase U.S. production of automotive parts and employment in the sector but also to lead to a small increase in the prices and small decrease in the consumption of vehicles in the United States.
  • The USMCA would establish commitments to open flows of data, which would positively impact a wide range of industries that rely on international data transfers. The agreement would reduce the scope of the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism, a change that, based on modeling results, would reduce U.S. investment in Mexico and would lead to a small increase in U.S. investment at home and output in the manufacturing and mining sectors.
  • Labor standards and rights would be strengthened, if enforced under the USMCA, including those related to collective bargaining in Mexico, which would promote higher wages and better labor conditions in that country.
  • New intellectual property rights provisions would increase protections for U.S. firms that rely on intellectual property.


Continue Reading

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) has released its annual National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers that addresses the status of foreign trade and investment barriers to U.S. exports around the world. This report is the U.S. government’s major annual report on the barriers to trade, investment and services that U.S.

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) has released President Donald Trump’s 2019 Trade Policy Agenda and 2018 Annual Report, detailing how the Trump administration’s trade policies “are benefitting American workers and contributing to the strongest economy in decades.” Claiming that the Trump administration “inherited a significantly flawed trading system,” the report states

On February 28, 2019, the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) submitted to Congress and released to the public a summary of the Trump administration’s specific negotiating objectives for its United States-United Kingdom trade agreement negotiations. This follows the USTR’s notification to Congress on October 16, 2018, of the Trump administration’s intention to enter into negotiations (see

On November 30, 2018, the United States, Mexico and Canada officially signed the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), a proposed free trade agreement that, if approved by Congress and ratified by the governments of Canada and Mexico, would revise and modernize the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Known as “NAFTA 2.0” during the trilateral negotiations,

On February 27, 2019, Ambassador Robert Lighthizer, U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), testified before the House Ways & Means Committee on U.S.-China trade relations. In his brief opening statement, the ambassador stated that the United States “can compete with anyone in the world but we must have rules – enforced rules – that make sure

In his second State of the Union address to Congress, President Donald Trump noted that he campaigned on several core promises, including “to defend American jobs and demand fair trade for American workers.” He argued that his administration has “moved with urgency and historic speed to confront problems neglected by leaders of both parties over

The Congressional Research Service (CRS), a nonpartisan staff to congressional committees and Members of Congress, has released an overview report, International Trade and Finance: Overview and Issues for the 116th Congress, in which it offers a brief review of President Donald Trump’s first two years in office and policy issues that the new 116th

With the 35-day partial federal government shutdown ending on January 26, 2019, the U.S. government’s trade-oriented agencies have reopened and are beginning to work through massive backlogs of work as personnel resume full-time operations. What follows is a listing of the current operational status of many of these agencies:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)