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White House and Congressional Democrats Reach Agreement on USMCA

An agreement between the White House and Congressional Democrats moves the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) closer to ratification in Congress. The Senate is expected to vote on ratifying legislation in 2020. Until USCMA is ratified by all three countries, the provisions of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) – including labor mobility rules – will remain in effect.

A closer look

The leaders of Canada, Mexico and the United States signed the USMCA in November 2018, moving the three countries close to replacing NAFTA. The labor mobility provisions of the USMCA – which ease the cross-border movement of businesspersons, certain professionals, intracompany transferees, traders and investors – are largely the same as those of NAFTA.

At the time the USMCA was signed, House Democrats expressed concerns about some of its provisions, including those related to labor and environmental standards. Further negotiations in recent months have resulted in revisions on those issues. The labor mobility provisions of USMCA were not affected by those revisions.

Next steps toward U.S. ratification of the USMCA

Legislation to ratify USMCA is expected to be introduced in Congress in the coming weeks. The House of Representatives could vote on that legislation by the end of 2019, but a vote in the Senate is not expected until next year. Once the pact is ratified by all three member countries, it will take effect.

Until the new agreement takes effect, the NAFTA mobility provisions and related immigration procedures will remain in place.

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