Canada has approved the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) in a move that paves the way for the deal to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
Bill C-4, ‘An Act to implement the Agreement between Canada, the United States of America and the United Mexican States’, was passed by the Senate at the third reading on Friday (13 March) before receiving royal assent.
Canada’s deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, who introduced the bill in the House of Commons in January, took to Twitter to announce the news.
Today, Canadian parliamentarians put aside partisanship and defended the national economic interest. We worked together as #TeamCanada to negotiate the new NAFTA, and, today, it passed with unanimous consent from all MPs and Senators. Thank you! https://t.co/nuhyUaulXB
— Chrystia Freeland (@cafreeland) March 13, 2020
The USMCA makes a number of updates and modifications to NAFTA and will offer qualifying textiles and apparel, travel goods and footwear originating from the USMCA region duty-free access to the US and Canadian markets.
It also includes new provisions on textiles that incentivise greater North American production, strengthen customs enforcement, and facilitate broader consultation and cooperation among the three parties.
US President Donald Trump signed the USMCA into law on 29 January in a move he said ends the “NAFTA nightmare”.
Canadian Parliament approval was welcomed by US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.
“Now that the USMCA has been approved by all three countries, an historic new chapter for North American trade has begun. This landmark achievement would not be possible without President Trump’s leadership and determination to strengthen our economy and the hard work of our negotiating partners in Canada and Mexico.
“USMCA is the gold standard by which all future trade agreements will be judged, and citizens of all three countries will benefit for years to come.”
According to international trade law firm Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg (ST&R), the agreement can enter into force once all three countries have verified that they have satisfied specific obligations spelled out in the deal. Nicole Bivens Collinson, president of ST&R’s government relations practice, said in January that is unlikely to occur before 1 July.
Canada’s approval came as the House of Commons modified its sitting calendar and will stand adjourned until 20 April, while the Senate has adjourned to 21 April in an effort to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus, Covid-19.
The Senate has adjourned to Tuesday, April 21, 2020 at 2:00 p.m. ET
— Senate of Canada (@SenateCA) March 13, 2020
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, however, is understood to have instructed the House leader to discuss a brief return of the House of Commons to handle emergency measures related to the outbreak, according to a report published by Global News yesterday (17 March).