SAN ANTONIO – Canada has made a last-minute decision to rejoin what had been the North American Free Trade Agreement, which will now be called USMCA.
“I was excited. It was built on what exists already," said Richard Perez, president and CEO of the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, after hearing about the decision.
Perez said the agreement will likely be tweaked again before the United States, Mexico and Canada sign off on it late next month.
Perez said he’s encouraged that it remains a trilateral agreement.
“That tells me that there’s an agreement that works for all of us, and so, to me, that’s what we wanted all along,” Perez said.
The legislative bodies of each country are expected to begin the ratification process next year after legislation is written to enact the new agreement.
U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Dist. 20, said he’s also hopeful, but he’ll withhold judgment until after he reads what’s in the agreement.
“I hope what they did in the renegotiated agreement is to make sure that the labor and wage standards in Mexico are lifted so that the playing field is more even now,” Castro said.
Castro said he also want to see what provisions were made to protect the environment. The San Antonio congressman said cross-border trade is also a priority.
“I’m watching to see what the cost is going to be for the movement of goods across the borders," he said.
Castro said the goal is to increase opportunities for all parties involved, including San Antonio.
“I want to see San Antonio businesses doing more trade with Canada and Mexico,” Castro said.
Statement from Richard Perez on trade deal:
"Just as we were excited a few weeks ago with the announcement that the United States had reached a preliminary trade agreement with Mexico, we are equally excited about today’s news of a tri-lateral agreement including Canada.
"The economic ties between the three countries are a major contributor to each country’s financial success, and no state benefits more from the NAFTA relationship than Texas. Canada’s participation in a modernized NAFTA is crucial for the growth and prosperity of our city and our state. In fact, Texas sells $27 billion in goods and service to Canada, with top exports being oil and machinery, both of which closely affect our local economy.
"This Chamber has been advocating for an updated NAFTA for more than two years, and it looks like a tri-lateral agreement will finally become a reality. We applaud the governments of all three countries for working diligently to negotiate a new and modernized trade agreement from which we will all benefit."