USMCA Trade Deal Reached After Year of Intense Negotiations

Details about the newly renegotiated United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) have been released.  This proposal, if ratified, will address disputes in the Canadian automotive and agricultural sectors, the cost of generic drugs in Canada, and online eCommerce.  It does not currently address national security tariffs, but preserves the dispute resolution process from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

News of the USMCA deal sent the Canadian dollar soaring on Monday.  The announcement of the USMCA deal may remove the uncertainty that was  preventing the Bank of Canada from hiking interest rates.  It is anticipated that the Bank of Canada will increase interest rates during the next policy announcement on October the 24th.  Details of the USMCA proposal will be summarized below.

Automotive sector- Trump has agreed that no hard limit will be placed on Canadian automotive exports to the United States.

Agricultural sector- American farmers will gain greater access (3.6 percent) of Canada’s current dairy market, and Canada will dismantle the “Class 7″ dairy ingredient (lower) pricing strategy for protein concentrates, skim milk, and whole milk powder, that  discourages foreign competition in the Canadian market.  The Americans will gain more than twice the market access to the Canadian chicken industry than what was previously negotiated in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, as well as increased access into the Canadian egg and poultry markets.  However, no major concessions will be made on the import and export of beef, pork, and grain.

eCommerce- The threshold of American goods Canadians can purchase online or via mail order without paying duties increases from $20 to $150.  American online and mail-order businesses expect to gain increased market share in Canada.

Prescription drugs- Canada has agreed to extend patent protection for biological pharmaceutical drugs from 8 to 10 years, which means that it will take longer for generic versions of new biological drugs to become available to the Canadian public.  Canada’s diminished control over the price of biologics may potentially pose a fresh challenge for the creation of a national pharmacare plan.

National security tariffs- During the summer, Trump announced that Canada would be subject to tariffs on steel and aluminum.  No agreement has been reached on the removal of these tariffs yet.

Dispute resolution- Trudeau was unequivocal about its inclusion of Chapter 19  in any new pact, which was ultimately agreed upon by the Americans despite protest from US negotiator Robert Lighthizer.  Chapter 19 from the NAFTA agreement spells out the process for companies to request arbitration if they feel that their products have been unfairly impacted by anti-dumping or countervailing duties.  

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