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Government Shutdown Could Delay USMCA Vote

Wednesday, January 09, 2019
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

A congressional vote on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement, which would replace NAFTA, could be delayed as a result of the ongoing federal government shutdown.

For the USMCA to receive the expedited congressional consideration provided under the trade promotion authority law, the International Trade Commission must prepare a report that assesses the likely impact of the agreement on the U.S. economy as a whole, specific industry sectors, and the interests of U.S. consumers. This report, which will be made public, is due to the president and Congress by March 15 (i.e., no more than 105 days after the Nov. 30 signing of the agreement.)

However, the ITC has reportedly stopped work on its USMCA report due to the shutdown, which is now in its third week. Sources state that the report could be finished on time if the shutdown ends soon but could be pushed back if it continues, especially if the ITC uses the full 105 days available. Any delay in the ITC report could then postpone congressional consideration of the agreement.

President Trump said after signing the USMCA that he intends to formally withdraw the U.S. from NAFTA, reportedly in an effort to prompt lawmakers to approve the USMCA. However, no such action has yet been taken.

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