By: Terry Ahtziry Cárdenas Banda, attorney, philanthropist, and law professor.
In these times a large number of exchanges exist between countries in various areas, such as social, legal, economic, and cultural. Therefore, it is necessary to be constantly updated and generating international agreements that benefit all nations to carry out their relations and those relations of their nationals with the different countries in an effective, accurate, and legally protected way.
In that sense, the renegotiation of the free trade agreement (NAFTA) was necessary, since the free trade agreement that was in force for the US, Mexico, and Canada trade bloc was concluded in 1994 and since then, despite the controversies that this generated at the time in the Mexican and American industry, no changes had been made. For this reason, we must denote that its renegotiation was not only necessary but a beneficial change for the countries in search of improving its legal relations, and we hope that it will be applied in this regard. It should be noted that the USMAC (United States-Mexico- Canada Agreement) replaces NAFTA (North America Free Trade Agreement) and entered into force on July 1 of this year.
Now, the question is whether the negotiations carried out by the members of this commercial bloc were the best and most beneficial for all the actors. Therefore, we must identify the positive and negative aspects of the new USMAC, it is important to specify what we will analyze these points from the general perspective of this international treaty.
Among the positive aspects to highlight is the clarity of the rules and the search for integration in the region, more structured and improved rules of origin were included, as well as regulations to allow the modernization and reinforcement in the agricultural sectors, the intellectual property sections were updated in a sense to enabled opportunities for trade in services. Likewise, aspects such as new chapters on digital trade, anti-corruption, and good regulatory practices, as well as a chapter dedicated to small and medium-sized companies that benefit from the treaty were incorporated in the new treaty, these aspects were not previously regulated in NAFTA.
Similarly, in labor matters, a chapter is incorporated that refers to the protection standards in labor law, an aspect not properly regulated with NAFTA, although it cited the objective of creating new employment opportunities, improving working conditions and levels of life in its territorial terms, but did not touch about the regulation of these aspects. Among the relevant aspects to consider in this chapter is the incorporation of the definition of forced or compulsory labor, as well as measures to eliminate all forms of forced or compulsory labor, including forced or compulsory child labor. Giving States the opportunity to denounce if they recognize industries that carry out such practices and request that measures be applied to eliminate them, such as imposing additional taxes, as well as prohibiting importations or measures that they considered appropriate to eliminate these practices that violate human rights.
Based on the legal text of this agreement it is a great benefit for the three countries since it solves some of the deficiencies of NAFTA and greatly opens the markets to our farmers and manufacturers.
On the other hand, the areas of opportunity observed in this new international treaty deal are some aspects of intellectual property, specifically the aspects of patents and their modifications, in labor matters, by not making clear some of the actions to be followed at the international level, in the pharmaceutical sector, by creating greater barriers, the reduction in Mexican autonomy in the agricultural sector, likewise, referring to the rules of origin that may be a beneficial factor, may also result in a disadvantage in some sectors, such as the case of steel and aluminum that presents stricter rules. In the same way, the agreement indicates that the actors have to inform the other members if they intend to generate a new free trade agreement with other nations that they do not have agreements on the matter, however, the scope of this report is not properly established.
Lastly, it is important to point out that the three countries must continue working hand in hand for the proper implementation of this treaty. Specifically, they have to continue to learn from each other since their internal legal norms, as well as, their social, cultural, and economic realities differ.