Much has changed in the four months since President Trump signed the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement into law back in December – not the least of which is the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. However, what has not changed is the importance of this agreement.
Recovering financially from the economic damage caused by the pandemic will require an all-out effort on a nation-wide scale. Thankfully, the American people have demonstrated toughness and resilience throughout our history. We know we will get through this.
In addition to responding to the pandemic, the Administration continues to ensure we are meeting our international trade commitments. The bipartisan USMCA updates and improves upon the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and will benefit our producers and manufacturers who have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic. Improved trade with our neighbors will be an important boost to our economy just when we need it most.
This past week, United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer announced USMCA will officially go into effect on July 1st. The pandemic has not brought trade disputes among nations to a halt, and access to USMCA’s dispute resolution mechanisms this summer will be valuable as we work to restore our economy.
Although July 1st is rapidly approaching, we must also recognize USMCA was written before the COVID-19 pandemic. Our new reality created obstacles which we must now account for. For example, COVID-19 significantly impacted the newly required trainings and supply chain changes needed to comply with the auto chapter in USMCA. For this reason, I joined my colleagues in writing to Ambassador Lighthizer stating the auto industry either needs more time to comply with the automotive rules of origin requirements or requesting the auto sector not be penalized for not fulfilling new requirements. I was pleased to hear USTR has since released guidelines and implementing procedures for the auto sector specifically on this topic, which is a critical step. When I spoke with Ambassador Lighthizer this week, I was also pleased with his determination for USMCA to move forward.
Although we still do not know when this pandemic will end, President Trump has never stopped thinking about what comes next. Expanding trade will help bolster the economy, and I applaud President Trump for pushing ahead and prioritizing getting this agreement into effect. I will continue working with the administration to expand trading opportunities, open foreign markets to American goods, and recover from this pandemic.