How to Understand and Benefit from Canada’s USMCA Trade Agreement?

Small Business Canada

International treaties play an important role in these changing times of transformative and highly collaborative forms of business structures and associations. With small businesses making remarkable imprints globally, it has become all-important to understand the way trade agreements work. It is critical for businesses, individuals, and policymakers to deeply understand Canada’s involvement in the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), also known as the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) in Canada, and gain from it. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was replaced by this trade pact when it went into effect on July 1, 2020. Here’s a guide to help you understand and utilize the USMCA/CUSMA to its full potential.:

1. Learn About the Important Provisions:

  • Rules of Origin: Understand the rules that determine whether a product qualifies for tariff-free or reduced tariffs under USMCA. This is crucial for businesses involved in trade.
  • Market Access: Review the clauses that apply to your industry’s or product’s access to the markets in Canada, the United States, and Mexico.
  • Intellectual Property: Learn about the intellectual property provisions, including copyright, trademark, and patent protections.
  • Labour and Environmental Standards: Since the USMCA includes obligations to uphold and enforce these standards, it is important to be informed of the labour and environmental laws that have an impact on commerce.

2. Evaluate the Effect on your Business:

  • Analyze how the agreement will impact your market and company strategy. Determine areas for improvement and potential problems.
  • Think about how changes in tariffs and market access can impact your supply chain, production costs, and competitiveness.
  • If you are an exporter, benefit from preferential access to the markets in the United States and Mexico by making sure your products comply with the USMCA’s rules of origin.

3. Compliance and Documentation:

  • Your company must adhere to the USMCA/CUSMA obligations, including record-keeping and documentation.
  • To ensure easy transit of commodities across borders, familiarize yourself with customs procedures.

4. Leverage Dispute Resolution Mechanisms:

  • Understand the dispute resolution mechanisms in the agreement. If you encounter trade-related issues, you can use these mechanisms to resolve disputes.

5. Stay Informed:

  • Stay updated on changes to the agreement. Trade policies change from time to time, and staying informed ensures you adapt your strategies accordingly.

6. Seek Legal and Professional Advice:

  • Consult with legal specialists and trade experts who specialize in international trade agreements if you have any questions or concerns about how the USMCA will affect your company or sector.

7. Promote Collaboration:

  • Explore opportunities for collaboration and partnerships with businesses in the U.S. and Mexico. USMCA encourages North American cooperation.

8. Diversify Markets:

  • While USMCA is important, you should think about expanding your markets outside of the United States and Mexico to lessen your reliance on one area and prevent any trade disruptions.

9. Support Training and Education:

  • Invest in your workforce’s education and training to make sure they comprehend and can successfully implement the agreement’s requirements.

10. Engage with Government and Industry Associations:

  • Participate in conversations about trade and USMCA/CUSMA that are led by governmental organizations and business organisations.

Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent, and Donald Trump both condemned NAFTA during the 2016 presidential campaign for causing job losses in the United States. Trump started renegotiations as soon as he took office in an effort to secure a “better deal” for the US. Trade is still a contentious issue, and candidates for president in 2020 were split on whether to embrace the USMCA. Democrats in Congress backed the USMCA in late 2019 after the Trump administration agreed to include tougher labour enforcement. The USMCA has brought about significant and positive changes with time. It has enhanced bilateral and trilateral ties between the parties, and the agreement is positively influencing trade flows.

The advantages of the USMCA/CUSMA may differ according to your industry and unique circumstances, so keep that in mind. It’s crucial to customize your strategy based on the provisions of the agreement and how they relate to your company’s or your personal interests.

CanadianSME is a small business magazine dedicated to providing entrepreneurs with the knowledge and resources they need to succeed. Keeping Canadian entrepreneurs informed of the latest developments in the small company sector is a top priority. Subscribe to CanadianSME at  and always be in the know. Stay up-to-date in real-time by following @canadian_sme on Twitter.

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