Lighthizer celebrates USMCA, promises enforcement as trade deal comes into force

The new deal has more stringent labour provisions

WASHINGTON — The new North American trade agreement is officially the law of the land, and the Trump administration is vowing to ensure that Canada, Mexico and the United States live up to its obligations.

U.S. trade ambassador Robert Lighthizer has issued a statement marking today’s coming into force of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, and promises to ensure that its rules and obligations are enforced.

In it, he cheers the USMCA as the signature accomplishment of President Donald Trump and a “monumental change” that will benefit American workers, farmers and ranchers instead of multinational corporations.

Kirsten Hillman, Canada’s ambassador to the U.S. and a central player in the negotiations, says the agreement — known as CUSMA in Canada — is designed to ensure more people in all three countries can reap its benefits.

That was the enduring flaw within the previous NAFTA agreement, which has been derided for years in the U.S. as a principal reason why manufacturing jobs migrated to Mexico.

The new deal has more stringent labour provisions that require more products to be built with well-paid labour in order to qualify for duty-free treatment.

“A huge component of this was incentivizing North American manufacturing in the auto sector. And that was about putting our workers on a level playing field with North American competitors,” Hillman said in an interview.

“As a high-wage jurisdiction, we want to make sure our folks were on a level playing field. So I think the theme of it is trade for all Canadians.”

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