The construct of the USMCA was always anticipated to sail through ratification in Mexico because, well, quite frankly, the USMCA is specifically structured to provide great benefit toward Mexico. It’s not because the language within the USMCA favors Mexico, but rather the rules are centered around deregulating industry, and lifting wages.
The rules-of-origin, in combination with mandated minimum wage rates attached to the manufacturing sector; and the fact that Mexico has the lowest current wage rates in North American; specifically means that Mexican workers stand to get the biggest financial benefits… and that’s ok. Trump, Lighthizer and Ross designed it that way.
The U.S. benefits when the Mexican wage rates are raised. Heck, there was a time in the early negotiations, after Canada was kicked out of the room, when Secretary Wilbur Ross was advocating for an $11/hr minimum wage in Mexico, and the Mexicans were like ‘whoa, wait a minute, too high, too high’… [It was quite funny, because Trump was being called racist simultaneous to him trying to give a $85/day pay raise to Mexicans (from $3/day)].
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexico on Wednesday became the first country to ratify the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) agreed late last year to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) at the behest of U.S. President Donald Trump.
By a vote of 114 in favor to 4 against, Mexico’s Senate backed the deal tortuously negotiated between 2017 and 2018 after Trump repeatedly threatened to withdraw from NAFTA if he could not get a better trade agreement for the United States.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador had already anticipated ratification this week in the Senate, where his leftist National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) and its allies have a comfortable majority in the 128-member chamber.
There has been little parliamentary opposition in Mexico to trying to safeguard market access to United States, by far Mexico’s top export destination, and the trade deal was approved with overwhelming cross-party support in the Senate.
Mexico sends around 80% of its exports to the United States, and Trump last month vowed to impose tariffs on all Mexican goods if Lopez Obrador does not reduce the flow of U.S.-bound illegal immigration from Central America.
Lopez Obrador says he wants to avoid conflict with Trump (read more).
The USMCA deal positions Mexico to retain their current multinational investments; and through a series of sector-by-sector standards on origination the deal simultaneously closes the fatal NAFTA loophole.
The agreement makes an economic manufacturing partnership between the U.S. and Mexico; and for assembly products third parties will have to produce parts and origination material within the U.S. and Mexico.
Here’s a good example in the auto-sector. The new USMCA agreement requires 75% of automobile parts made in North America; and 45% must come from plants with minimum labor costs ($16/hr), or face tariffs upon export to the U.S. Additionally, the total source-origination rate of 75% USMCA product is higher than everyone thought possible.
This 75% country-of-origin level was possible because President Trump cut out the corporations (ie. U.S. Chamber of Commerce) from having any influence over the agreement. Most people probably don’t know, but the USMCA was the first trade deal negotiated without multinational corporations in the room.
Example of downstream consequences/benefits: German auto-maker BMW recently built a $2 billion assembly plant in Mexico (just came on-line). Most of their core parts were coming from the EU (steel/aluminum casting components) and/or Asia (electronics). Now the assembly plant will have to source 75% of the auto-parts from the U.S. and Mexico, with 45% of those parts from facilities paying $16/hr. The Result: BMW will need to modify their supply chain and build auto parts in the U.S. and Mexico. [That’s Exactly What Happened]
Canada doesn’t gain as much benefit because: (1) Canadian environmentalists don’t allow heavy industrial manufacturing; and (2) the new USMCA closes the NAFTA loophole and blocks Canada from brokering their ‘assembly process‘ access to the U.S. market.
However, knowing this, when President Trump applied the global Steel and Aluminum tariffs toward Canada – he created a USMCA benefit for Canada literally out of thin air. In exchange for Canada agreeing to the terms of the USMCA, President Trump has now agreed to drop the Steel and Aluminum tariffs against Canada.
Canada will ratify the agreement because they have no choice if they want to keep access to the U.S. market for their products. I would predict Canadian ratification within a few weeks (before mid July).
Domestically, Nancy Pelosi is playing ‘OrangeManBad’ politics with the agreement; but once Canada ratifies it Pelosi will have to drop her pretense. Don’t worry, it’ll happen.