U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer recently answered several questions about the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) which is set to go into effect July 1. Lawmakers voiced several USMCA concerns during a recent House Ways and Means Committee hearing. Several members had questions related to how the U.S. intends to enforce the agreed-upon terms of the trade deal.
“USTR has taken the hundreds of steps necessary to swing into action,” said Lighthizer. “I can assure the committee that when it does go into effect, we will take action early and often when there are problems.”
Ranking Member Kevin Brady expressed multiple USMCA concerns related to biotech approvals in Mexico as well as trepidation about Canada’s approach to dairy. Lighthizer acknowledged that Mexico has not approved any biotech products from the U.S. in nearly two years and it will likely require formal consultations to remedy the issue once the USMCA goes into effect. Lighthizer also assured the committee members that any potential issues of not adhering to the parameters of the USMCA would be dealt with swiftly.
“Dairy is something that we’re going to be very closely monitoring with Canada. They have a period of a few months to get rid of Class 7 and Class 6. We expect them to do it on time; there’s no reason to believe they won’t,” Lighthizer explained. “If there’s any shading of the benefits to American farmers we’re going to bring a case against them.”
During the hearing, Lighthizer reiterated his support for continuing with the July 1 implementation date for the USMCA. He said the North American Free Trade Agreement had largely lacked any enforcement mechanisms and felt much more confident about the provisions of the USMCA.
“We’re ready to go,” Lighthizer explained. “We’ve built in a very good system, a rapid response system, plus a state-to-state dispute settlement system. We have committees, we have ways for congressional involvement and the administration will follow through to the extent there are violations.”