Canada News Agency

New trade agreement between U.S., Mexico, Canada "positive" for U.S. economy: report

If fully enforced, the trade agreement struck between the United States, Mexico and Canada late last year "would have a positive impact on U.S. real GDP and employment," the United States International Trade Commission (USITC) said in a report released Thursday.
 
The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) was signed on Nov. 30, 2018 by the three nations and still needs to be ratified by the three nations' respective legislatures before going into effect.
 
The USITC said its model estimates that the USMCA would raise U.S. real GDP by 68.2 billion U.S. dollars, or 0.35 percent, and U.S. employment by 176,000 jobs, or 0.12 percent.
 
The deal, the report estimates, will see U.S. exports to Canada increase by 19.1 billion, or 5.9 percent. It is also expected to enable the United States to sell an additional 14.2 billion dollars' worth of goods and services to Mexico, up 6.7 percent compared with the current level.
 
As far as U.S. imports from its two neighbors are concerned, the report projected that imports from Canada will increase by 19.1 billion dollars, or 4.8 percent, and from Mexico, up 12.4 billion dollars, or 3.8 percent.
 
The report said USMCA's provisions that reduce policy uncertainty about digital trade and certain new rules of origin applicable to the automotive sector are "elements that would have the most significant effects on the U.S. economy."
 
The USMCA would "strengthen and add complexity to" the rules of origin requirements in the automotive sector, the report said, adding that while doing so will increase U.S. production of automotive parts and employment in the sector, it will also result in "a small increase in the prices and small decrease in the consumption of vehicles in the United States."
 
Provisions in USMCA related to rules of origin in the auto sector are among the hotly debated parts of the agreement. The U.S. Automobile Workers, an auto union, in March called for more effort to amend those stipulations.
 
The current version of the deal will raise the requirement for North American content in cars to 75 percent from 62.5 percent. It also requires at least 40 percent of car production to come from factories with an average wage of 16 U.S. dollars per hour, which could put Mexico, a low-cost production hub, at a disadvantage.
 
The USITC report said USMCA's new international data transfer provisions, including those that largely prohibit forced localization of computing facilities and restrictions on cross-border data flows, are considered by industry representatives to be crucial, "especially given the lack of similar provisions in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)."
 
Effective since Jan. 1, 1994, NAFTA is a trade agreement between the three nations that has been blamed by the Trump administration for treating the United States unfairly. Trump has vowed to replace NAFTA -- which he has repeatedly called "a disaster"-- by USMCA.