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Will the USMCA Change Mexico for the Better?

The new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement may well succeed in marginally improving America’s position regarding jobs, investment, labor, the environment, and dispute settlement. But if the pact is intended to boost Mexico’s economic growth and welfare, and bolster the rule of law, it will not achieve these goals any time soon.

MEXICO CITY – By approving the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the US House of Representatives has removed a major potential obstacle to the trade pact. The Mexican Senate has already approved the deal, and the US Senate and the Canadian Parliament are expected to do so early next year. Once it enters into force, the USMCA – which will replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) – will have far-reaching consequences for Mexico in particular.

The House vote came more than a year after the three countries’ leaders signed the USMCA in Buenos Aires in November 2018 – a longer wait than many had anticipated, but shorter than others had expected after the Republicans lost their House majority in last year’s midterm elections. Officials and analysts in the three countries had been hopeful that Congress would approve the agreement, given the important concessions on jobs, labor, the environment, dispute settlement, dairy products, and intellectual property that US President Donald Trump had wrested from the Mexican and Canadian governments. They were right to be optimistic.

Yet, as recently as the US Thanksgiving holiday in late November, the Trump administration had not even sent the USMCA bill to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi – raising the prospect of the deal being postponed until after the 2020 US presidential election.