Car quotas and labour rights: Two key changes in the newly signed USMCA

OTTAWA — Initial analysis on the final text of the new North American trade pact Canada signed on Friday is pointing to two changes — one potentially helpful for the auto sector, the other potentially problematic for labour rights.

Cars and Automotive Parts

Canada, just like Mexico, signed what is known as a side letter — a one-on-one provision connected to, but not formally part of the trade deal text — on automotive imports. Canada will be able to export up to 2.6 million passenger vehicles into the United States tariff-free. The limit is well above current levels of about 1.8 million vehicles, and the country isn’t forecasted to reach the quota until at least a decade from now, as vehicle production in Canada declines along with consumer demand, said Juan Manuel Herrera, an economist with Scotiabank Economics.

A change also specifies that tariffs won’t apply to those vehicles even if they don’t meet rules of origin provisions in the trade deal, which lay out continental content and labour requirements to be considered tariff-free.

“People were afraid that the side letters would also give power to the U.S. in how Canada decides how to allocate this 2.6 million exemption,” Herrera said. ”But … the Canadian government, or Canadian firms, are the ones who will distribute this exemption as they see fit — it’s not that the U.S. is the one who gets to pick.”

Also of note: The side letter is effective immediately.

Sexual orientation, gender identity and labour rights

The original text of the agreement pledged all three countries to support “policies that protect workers against employment discrimination on the basis of sex, including with regard to pregnancy, sexual harassment, sexual orientation, gender identity.”

But the final agreement has a change in language that various analyses suggest will water down its reach: The new wording calls on each country to implement policies each “considers appropriate to protect workers against employment discrimination on the basis of sex.” A footnote on the agreement says American federal hiring policies “are sufficient to fulfil the obligations” on labour rights, and “thus requires no additional action” by the U.S.

Some congressional Republicans have already suggested they won’t support the deal with any wording on sexual orientation or gender identity because they feel it goes too far. Critics who supported the original provision feel the new wording doesn’t go far enough.

“Honestly, whatever you think of the LGBTQ provisions in the new NAFTA, this outcome — to include them but nullify them with a footnote — is ridiculous,” tweeted Geoffrey Getz, a fellow at the Washington, D.C.-based Brookings Institution.

“It’s the kind of thing that will make progressives even more suspicious of engaging with trade liberalization.”

Just Posted

Red Deer woman lives 102 years with humour, ‘gentle strength’ — and porridge

Minnie Deibert was surrounded by family and friends at her birthday party Sunday

Boy escapes serious injury after falling from third-storey window

SURREY, B.C. — A little boy is very lucky to have escaped… Continue reading

Harmonic singing for young women will be taught at a fall workshop in Red Deer

The Hearts of Harmony Chorus is presenting the Nov. 16 session

‘Crying out for help:’ Calgary radicalization program evolves to help others

CALGARY — The soft-spoken young man wasn’t being recruited by neo-Nazis or… Continue reading

Victoria pledges to plant 5,000 trees as part of United Nations challenge

Victoria is promising to plant 5,000 trees on public and private land… Continue reading

Your community calendar

Tuesday Bower Place Community Association Seniors Card and Coffee party at 1:30… Continue reading

Liberals pitch middle-class savings as second full week of campaign beckons

OTTAWA — The Liberals tried to turn the page on Justin Trudeau’s… Continue reading

Democrats blast latest Trump crisis. But what will they do?

WASHINGTON — A whistleblower’s complaint over President Donald Trump’s interactions with a… Continue reading

Face transplant recipient’s donor face now failing

MANCHESTER, N.H. — A woman who was severely burned in a domestic… Continue reading

Charity boat with 182 migrants waits to dock in Europe

A non-profit-run ship carrying 182 migrants rescued on the Mediterranean Sea sailed… Continue reading

Singh-Trudeau meeting will be private, say Liberals, but no time set yet

OTTAWA — The Liberal Party pledged Saturday to keep private the details… Continue reading

Glen Assoun calls for reform in how Ottawa considers cases of wrongful conviction

HALIFAX — Tethered to an ankle monitor and alone in a British… Continue reading

No winning ticket for Saturday nights $9 million Lotto 649 jackpot

TORONTO — There was no winning ticket for the $9 million jackpot… Continue reading

Most Read