Background

Trade ministers from the U.S., Mexico, and Canada reviewed the operation of the USMCA recently, including work to implement agreement provisions on agricultural trade and biotechnology, trade facilitation, state-owned enterprises, good regulatory practices, and non-tariff trade barriers. A meeting of deputy trade ministers is planned before the end of the year to assess progress and identify opportunities for further work.

According to a press release from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, one of the topics of broader discussion was North American competitiveness given that “integrated supply chains are a competitive advantage for North America and that maintaining trade flows in emergency situations is essential for all three countries.” Toward that end, the three ministers directed the USMCA Free Trade Commission’s Competitiveness Committee to complete, within 90 days, negotiations on the establishment of a subcommittee to cooperate during emergency situations in order to maintain, re-establish, or otherwise address issues related to the flow of trade between the three countries, as well as a working group under that subcommittee to coordinate on a shared understanding of critical infrastructure priorities.

The ministers also reiterated their commitment to address forced labor in supply chains and discussed steps each country is taking to implement the shared USMCA obligation to prohibit the importation of goods produced by forced labor. They also discussed opportunities for continued sharing of best practices, experiences, and lessons learned in relation to forced labor and other forms of labor exploitation. Further discussion on this issue is expected at the next Labor Council meeting in 2023.

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