USMCA paased by US Senate

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Congress just passed the USMCA. Now it’s Canada’s turn.

Marielle Segarra Jan 17, 2020

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, U.S. President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, sign the USMCA. Martin Bernetti/AFP via Getty Images

Three years ago, the leaders of the U.S., Canada and Mexico signed the new trade agreement. But the trade deal hasn’t actually gone into effect yet, because it needs to be approved by the legislatures in all three places.

Mexico has signed off on it. The U.S. Senate just did yesterday, after House Democrats negotiated for more environmental and labor protections. Now it’s down to Canada.

It shouldn’t be that hard to get the USMCA through the Canadian Parliament. The Liberal Party, led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, supports the deal. According to Colin Robertson, vice president at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, the conservative opposition party will come around.

“The previous leader of the Conservative Party said he could have got a better deal, but I do not anticipate that the conservatives will oppose it because they are pro-free trade as well,” Robertson said.

The country did make some concessions in the trade deal — like allowing U.S. farmers to sell more of their dairy products tariff-free in Canada.  

But Robertson said he doesn’t expect the Canadian government to change anything about the deal — even though the U.S. did — because Canada has been negotiating behind the scenes this whole time. Eric Miller, a global fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center Canada Institute, made a similar observation.

“At one point, Chairman Neal, from the House Ways and Means Committee, paid a visit to Ottawa to brief Canada on where the discussions were going,” Miller noted.

Steps like these gave Canada a chance to say what it was OK with, and what it wasn’t.