The United States, Mexico and Canada have finalized a trade deal to replace the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The pact includes important Society of American Florists-backed provisions related to science-based sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) standards.
“The final deal reflects floral industry input and helps ensure that growers, products and the supply chain are protected,” said Joe Bischoff, Ph.D., SAF’s senior lobbyist, noting that union support proved critical to the deal’s final approval. “Having a finalized trade deal adds more stability to the market, which is a good thing for businesses.”
Representatives from all three countries signed the pact, known as USMCA, this week, shortly after Democrats in the U.S. Congress signaled their support. According to The New York Times, “the changes must now be woven into implementing legislation that the House and Senate will both vote on. The pact will also need to secure [President Trump’s] signature and the final approval of the Mexican and Canadian legislatures.”
SAF has been in communication with the government since the early stages of USMCA negotiations, advocating for modernization of SPS standards to protect domestic producers from new and invasive pests, along with enhanced electronic data sharing provisions.
The Office of the United States Trade Representative singled out the enhanced SPS rules as a key achievement of USMCA.
According to USTR, “provisions include increasing transparency on the development and implementation of SPS measures; advancing science-based decision making; improving processes for certification, regionalization and equivalency determinations; conducting systems-based audits; improving transparency for import checks; and working together to enhance compatibility of measures.”
In addition, the agreement establishes a new mechanism for technical consultations to resolve issues between parties.
News of the deal, which also strengthens labor, environmental and intellectual property rules, enhances worker protections and increases penalties for currency manipulation, was greeted positively across political aisles in Washington.
Chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means Rep. Richard E. Neal of Massachusetts called the final version of the deal a “true transformation of the original United States Mexico Canada agreement” and said the pact is a “win for the U.S. economy and American families.”
USTR Robert Lighthizer classified USMCA as “an historic agreement”— one that’s been years in the making. “After working with Republicans, Democrats and many other stakeholders for the past two years we have created a deal that will benefit American workers, farmers and ranchers for years to come,” said Lighthizer.
Mary Westbrook is the editor in chief of Floral Management magazine.