ITC launches crucial investigation into the economic effects of USMCA

October 15, 2018

Editor’s note: The exact timing and procedure of voting on the USMCA remain unclear. Ordinarily it would be next year, but it could be this year. 

The U.S. International Trade Commission on Friday launched an investigation into the likely economic impacts of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, a key element of the process -- and timing -- of implementing the deal in the U.S.

[Isabelle Hoagland and Brett Fortnam | October 15, 2018 | Inside US Trade]

The 2015 Trade Promotion Authority says the ITC must issue its report within 105 days of the president's signing of a trade deal. If President Trump signs USMCA at the end of November -- the earliest he could do so under TPA, and the latest date by which outgoing Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto could sign it -- the ITC report would be due by mid-March 2019.

But several Republican senators have suggested that USMCA could be voted on in the 2018 lame-duck session if Democrats win control of the House in the upcoming midterm elections.

Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) told Inside U.S. Trade this week that the timing of the USMCA vote came up during U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer’s meeting with senators on Wednesday and added that, based on those discussions, a lame-duck vote was “possible.” Lighthizer met with the Senate Advisory Group on Negotiations on Wednesday.

“It would require an ITC report to be done very quickly,” Portman said. “Normally the ITC takes longer but they don’t have to. It’s the ITC, it’s not USTR -- so to a certain extent it’s out of Lighthizer’s hands. I’m sure he could encourage them one way or another but that is the question.”

Read more at Inside US Trade 

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  • Franklin Kirkland
    I would have hoped that estimating the impact on the bilateral trade balances of each of the proposed changes to NAFTA would have been an integral part of the process. Therefore we should already have first order estimates in hand. And if/when the ITC makes its own estimate, it will hopefully have adjusted its methodology to correct for its previous erroneously optimistic projections. If we are fortunate, the modest changes will at least arrest the increases we would have otherwise seen in the deficit with Mexico.