USMCA enters into force Jul 1; AAFA, USCM welcome start

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Though the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) went into effect from July 1, many requirements of the deal, such as expanding worker rights or opening up the flow of agriculture, have not been fully met, or still need to be phased in over the coming months and years. The deal’s protections for workers could still falter, US labour leaders caution.

The agreement, reached after more than two years of talks, sought to change Mexico’s labour rules so that workers could enjoy the freedom to form unions and bargain for better wages. But those changes are still winding their way through the Mexican legal system, under threat from powerful companies and politicians.

As industries like automobiles and agriculture continue to struggle to understand recent US government guidelines related to the deal, companies, government authorities and union leaders across North America have been rushing to comply with the agreement, according to a top US newspaper.

“Today as #USMCA enters into force, many improvements must be made to fulfill its promises,” Richard Trumka, the president of the American Federation of Labour and Congress of Industrial Organisations (AFL-CIO), wrote on Twitter. “We will fight to ensure that the #USMCA doesn’t become another #NAFTA."

American officials say they are gearing up to use the new deal as a way to challenge Canadian and Mexican business practices that harm US interests.

Welcoming the implementation of the agreement, American Apparel & Footwear Association President and chief executive officer Steve Lamar said: “Allowing the agreement to provide structure and avoiding the imposition of unnecessary trade barriers, such as punitive tariffs, will be essential for these American businesses and the American workforce to succeed and prosper under the agreement. Ensuring predictability and lowering trade barriers are always important, but even more so now, as we recover from and safely restart our economy in light of COVID-19.”

The United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) also hailed the implementation of the agreement.