By Jonathan Martin
Legislation to ratify the CUSMA/USMCA trade deal will come when the U.S. is ready for it, the prime minister said.
Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s foreign affairs minister, presented a ways and means motion on the bill in the House of Commons on Monday, which means it could be added to the notice paper any time.
The timeline will depend on how the U.S. government moves forward with its own ratification legislation, though.
“We’re going to be aligning ourselves very much with the pace of the American administration,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters in Ottawa Tuesday. “The deal, as it is, is a good deal for Canadians and a great deal for people across the country. We’re going to continue moving forward.”
The Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance (CAFTA), along with four other business groups, sent him an open letter Wednesday expressing support.
“We stand ready to work with you (Trudeau) as you implement this important agreement to lift the cloud of uncertainty that has hung over the North American trade and investment relationship since 2017,” the letter reads. “We would encourage all three governments to work together to enhance North American competitiveness and good regulatory practices as outlined in the agreement by establishing committees in each area to promote economic growth and strengthen regulatory cooperation.”
Ratification isn’t just up to Canada, Freeland explained Monday.
“The entry into force of this agreement does not depend solely on Canada,” Freeland told reporters Monday. “The new agreement can enter into force only upon ratification in each of the three NAFTA countries.”
Claire Citeau, CAFTA’s executive director, does not feel that Canada is taking a back seat by following the American timeline.
“Tabling the bill is a sign (the Canadian government is) committed,” Citeau told Farms.com Friday. “They are helping take away farmers’ uncertainty in a very uncertain time.”
Citeau lauded the bill’s expansion of markets for certain processed foods as well as the planned formation of working groups made up of industry representatives.
There is no solid timeline for the implementation of the so-called new NAFTA, but the U.S. will make “energetic efforts” to “get the USMCA done this year” Mike Pence, the U.S. vice president, told reporters in Ottawa Thursday.
If that is the case, Canada will likely follow suit.
This article was edited for clarity and accuracy on June 3, 2019.