Senators want to delay implementation of USMCA amid COVID-19

April 1, 2020

Tyson Fisher


The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, better known as USMCA, might have to wait even longer. On Monday, 19 members of Senate Finance Committee urged U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to delay the launch date.

On Monday, March 30, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) sent a letter to Lighthizer regarding USMCA. Along with 17 of their colleagues in the Finance Committee, the senators want to postpone the implementation of the trade agreement that is to begin on June 1.

Although senators are claiming “the work is not yet finished,” the letter cites the COVID-19 pandemic when justifying their request.

“A long experience of incomplete and inadequate implementation by trade agreement partners has taught us that the United States must do this work on the front end to ensure that the words on paper deliver genuine benefits to Americans, including our farmers, workers, and businesses,” the letter states. “We urge you to seriously reconsider the proposed June 1 entry into force of USMCA, particularly in light of the significant public health crisis and supply chain disruptions caused by COVID-19.”

The letter states that COVID-19’s global disruption has left little time and resources to prepare for a smooth transition to USMCA.

However, the senators also state that the June 1 deadline is “highly aggressive” even without the current pandemic situation. Committee members want Canada and Mexico to demonstrate full adherence to USMCA commitments. Furthermore, they worry that businesses do not have enough information necessary to adjust to and comply with the new rules.

“USMCA should not enter into force prematurely – particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic – and thereby deny American farmers, workers, and businesses its intended benefits,” the letter states.

USMCA has been in the making for a few years. The first draft was signed off by all three countries in September 2018. However, formal negotiations began in May 2017.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association welcomes the passage of USMCA.

“The enactment of USMCA is a long-awaited victory for American truckers,” OOIDA President Todd Spencer said in a statement. “For the overwhelming majority of U.S. truckers, NAFTA has not been a benefit. We appreciate the Trump administration and the U.S. Congress for getting this done. We also want to thank OOIDA Board Member Johanne Couture for everything she did to assist with this process over the last couple of years. We’re optimistic Canada will move forward and ratify the agreement as quickly as possible.”

OOIDA had a hand in shaping the bill. During negotiations, the Association has worked with the Lighthizer and members of Congress to update NAFTA’s trucking-related provisions “that continue to harm American small-business motor carriers and jeopardize highway safety,” OOIDA stated in a news release.

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