MCALLEN, Texas – The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement took effect July 1, 2020, replacing the North American Free Trade Agreement.

To celebrate, the Wilson Center in Washington, D.C., hosted a webinar with esteemed representatives from the three countries: Luz María De La Mora from Mexico, Joseph Semsar from the United States, and Ailish Campbell from Canada.

The Wilson Center is home to the Mexico Institute and the Canada Institute.

Jane Harman

De La Mora is a former Mexico Institute public policy scholar and now under-secretary for foreign trade in the Secretariat of Economy in Mexico.

Semsar is deputy under secretary for international trade, performing the non-executive functions and duties of the Under Secretary for International Trade in the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Campbell is chief trade commissioner of Canada and assistant deputy minister in the Global Affairs Department in Canada.

The webinar started with opening remarks from Jane Harman, a former U.S. Representative from Los Angeles, California, who is now president and CEO of the Wilson Center.

“We are all celebrating, virtually, the fact that this is a new phase in the relationship among our three countries,” Harman said.

“The new NAFTA is meant to strengthen the continental steel and aluminum production, encourage auto production, introduce stronger protection for workers, and introduce technology, can you imagine, as a form of trade, something that was not envisioned back in the day when NAFTA passed.

“But, as we all know, the devil is in the detail, and an 1,800-page agreement will be put to the test when it is implemented.”

Harman ended her remarks by saying: “Sorry we don’t have champagne or whatever might suit, in my case a tequila, to celebrate this momentous occasion. Congratulations, everybody.”

Earl Anthony Wayne

Earl Anthony Wayne is a Mexico Institute public policy fellow and former career U.S. ambassador to Argentina, Afghanistan and Mexico. Earl moderated the webinar.

“This is a major event for all of North America, for Canada, for Mexico, for the United States,” Wayne said of USMCA.

“Just a reminder, the United States’ two neighbors have more impact on the daily lives of U.s. citizens than any other countries in the world. They are our No. 1 and No. 2 trading partners. They support up to twelve million jobs in the United States with the economic connections that we have between the three countries. And that is equally true for Canada and Mexico, millions of jobs are supported there and it is a very important relationship for both of them.”

Wayne said consumers in all three countries benefit from the North America trade agreement. “They are benefiting from this commercial connectivity and production relationship that we have.”

Wayne said it is not surprising there are problems in such a large relationship between the three neighbors. 

“It is hard to find solutions sometimes, but that is why USMCA is very important. This will allow the three countries to find solutions to difficult problems and also to take advantage of the many opportunities that are out there to make North America more competitive in the world, visvis-a-vis-a-vis, other major producers and commercial powers in different parts of the globe.”


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