US President Donald Trump has signed the USMCA trade deal with Mexico and Canada into law, fulfilling a campaign promise to overhaul NAFTA, which proved disastrous to American manufacturing after its passage 16 years ago.
The signing on Wednesday capped off a lengthy legislative journey for a deal the three countries drafted over a year ago and sent it off to Canada for final approval. Mexico signed the deal in June.
The USMCA passed the Senate by an overwhelming majority earlier this month and finally passed the House in December after languishing there for over a year of drawn-out negotiations between the chamber’s Democratic majority and the president’s trade representative. Nevertheless, House Democrats were quick to take credit for the deal becoming law.
“The only reason that the president is having this signing today is because of what we did as House Democrats,” House Ways and Means Committee chair Richard Neal (D-Massachusetts) preened on Wednesday.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi chimed in to praise the “tremendous differences” between the original agreement and the final version, unable to resist getting in a dig at Trump: “I hope he understands what he’s signing today.”
The deal imposes stricter sourcing rules on the auto industry, requiring car manufacturers to have more of their parts made in one of the three countries in order to qualify for zero tariffs, and a significant percentage of those parts must be made by workers earning at least $16 per hour by 2023. Mexico has adopted stricter labor protection laws that will allow workers to unionize. The USMCA also opens up access to the Canadian dairy market for US farmers, extends copyright protections 20 years, and exempts Big Tech from liability for content produced by its users.
Some 80,000 new jobs and $30 billion in new investment are expected to be generated in the auto industry alone, with a total of 589,000 new jobs created under the USMCA, according to the International Trade Commission. US GDP is expected to get a 1.2 percentage point boost from the deal.
The signing of the USMCA came less than a month after Trump secured the first phase of a long-awaited trade deal with China, the US’ largest trading partner. Trump attracted significant electoral support in 2016 with his promise to renegotiate NAFTA, the 1994 trade treaty that proved an unmitigated disaster for American industry as companies fled south to Mexico where manufacturing was significantly cheaper.