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USMCA finds momentum with Mexico’s approval

Mexico’s June 19 approval of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement brings the updated version of the North American Free Trade Agreement one important step closer to ratification.

While the U.S. Congress may not vote on the trade agreement in the next few weeks, Richard Owen, vice president of global business development at the Produce Marketing Association, said lawmakers may act by late summer.

“I do think there is a window to have it come up before Congress recesses in August,” Owen said.
Owen said Mexico’s approval has added motivation for the U.S. and Canada to act.

Now that President Trump’s imports tariffs on Canadian and Mexican steel and aluminum have been lifted — combined with the fact that Trump’s threatened tariffs on imports of Mexican goods tied to immigration enforcement were avoided — Owen said the major obstacles for USMCA approval were removed.

“We would like to see it come up for a vote and get approved as quickly as possible,” he said.

Owen said he doesn’t believe the administration’s May termination of the tomato suspension agreement between Mexican tomato growers and the Commerce Department will have any effect on the vote by Congress.

What’s more, the desire by some U.S. growers for seasonal trade protection against imports from Mexico also is unlikely to hinder the deal, he said.

“I think the administration at this point would want to keep the agreement pretty clean,” Owen said.
Even so, some lawmakers were urging the administration to keep the seasonality provision out of USMCA.

Sen. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., penned a letter urging the administration to protect American consumers and farmers by keeping a “seasonality” provision out of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

In a letter sent to U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Robert Lighthizer, McSally and other lawmakers from Arizona, Texas, and California express their opposition to the inclusion of any seasonality provision in legislation implementing the USMCA, according to a news release.

“Cross-border commerce with Mexico is critical to Arizona’s economy and workforce,” McSally said in a news release. “Any seasonality provision incorporated into the USMCA would negatively impact Arizona’s hardworking families with higher costs at the grocery store and dinner table. I have expressed my opposition to such a provision to the administration and will continue to fight for Arizona jobs and families.”

On June 14, the U.S. International Trade Commission published a notice in the Federal Register that said the group was resuming of the final phase of anti-dumping investigation to determine whether U.S. tomato growers were materially injured because of imports of fresh tomatoes from Mexico, preliminarily determined by the Department of Commerce to be sold at less than fair value. The commission said a timeline for the final phase of this investigation will be issued later.

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