MCALLEN, Texas – The North American Free Trade Agreement ends June 30, to be replaced the next day by the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

On Wednesday, June 17, a webinar will be held about the transition, primarily for those directly impacted by the changes. It is being hosted jointly by McAllen Economic Development Corporation and Interlink Trade Services.

The webinar will take place on Wednesday, June 17, 2020 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Jorge Torres

Topics to be covered include key aspects of the transition from NAFTA to USMCA, a general overview of the USMCA rules of origin for automotive and textile products, certification of origin requirements and a general overview of USMCA origin verifications and record-keeping.

In an exclusive interview with The Rio Grande Guardian, Jorge Torres, president of Interlink Trade Services, previewed the webinar.

“USMCA will become effective July 1. NAFTA expires June 30. There is no transition period. They are going to flip the switch off for NAFTA and they are going flip the switch on for USMCA,” Torres said.

Torres holds a Bachelor in Business Administration in Accounting from Texas A&M University and a Master of Professional Accounting from Texas A&M International University. He has been a licensed customs broker for 25 years and has worked with maquiladora and customs brokerage operations for 30 years. His company has offices in McAllen/Pharr and Brownsville, Texas.

In his interview with The Rio Grande Guardian, Torres said there are some concerns regarding implementation of USMCA.

“There are a lot of things that need to be done to comply with the new agreement so a lot of companies are still searching for answers or trying to find clarifications,” Torres said.

“So, the purpose of this is to give those companies information as to what needs to be done to transition from NAFTA to USMCA as seamlessly as possible, which in a way might be difficult due to the time constraints.”

Torres said preparing for USMCA was not helped by the coronavirus pandemic. 

“Starting in March, the main issue was the quarantine and COVID-19. So a lot of companies shut down, reduced staffing, or had their focus on complying or having issues with COVID, so they were not looking at USMCA implementation.”

Indeed, Torres said many people in the import-export business thought the start of USMCA may be delayed because of the coronavirus.

“We thought that because of COVID-19 it was going to be postponed until, most likely, Jan. 1, 2021. But they (U.S., Mexico and Canada) said no, July 1 it is. So now we have to deal with it. That is what we are putting this on this webinar.”

Asked who would benefit by tuning in to the webinar, Torres said: 

“It is really for anybody who engages in cross-border services, national trade between the three countries, and particularly the United States and Mexico. Some of the focus will be on those industries that have maquiladoras. Those are the ones that are going to be affected the most by USMCA.”

Torres said as the main speaker for the webinar, he will present highlights of some of the major changes about to be ushered in.

“We will try to give them our perspective on what needs to be done, at least initially, to start the process of compliance. We will focus on the main things that will be changed.”

Without stealing the thunder from his presentation on the webinar, The Rio Grande Guardian asked Torres to tell us who some of the winners and losers will be from USMCA. He said:

“Some of the changes are beneficial, some are not. The new agreement particularly affects the automotive industry. That totally changed because there was a push to have the assembly of auto vehicles to the United States. There is an increase in regional value content and labor requirements. It looks like they will have to shift some of that production to the U.S.”

USMCA also includes sections on intellectual property rights, which was not in NAFTA, Torres said.

“Our webinar is more geared towards those that are engaged in trade and in particular maquiladora type companies. It is free of charge, though those wishing to participate will have to register through McAllen EDC. Anyone can listen but those in the trade will take more advantage from it than anybody else.”

The webinar will be available via “zoom” with a designated link received after registration. The presentation will be recorded and archived at www.McAllenEDC.org

In addition to providing information on various aspects of the USMCA, an interactive question and answer session will conclude the presentation. Registration is open to the first 500 participants at www.mcallenedc.org/usmca.


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