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It’s easy to sing the praises of USMCA … isn’t it?

Posted: October 9, 2018 by John G. Smith

It’s somewhat easy to sing praises of the new United States – Mexico – Canada Agreement (USMCA) from a trucking perspective.

For more than a year, we were left to wonder if Canada would be included in a trade deal at all. U.S. President Donald Trump argued that his country faced a raw deal under NAFTA, which had been governing cross-border trade since 1994. At different times he blustered that he was scrapping the deal, angered by the supply management system used by dairy farmers, and imposing tariffs on the all-important automotive sector.

That all changed at the 11th hour on Oct. 1, when a new deal with an unpronounceable name was established. (Is it “youzemecka” or “usmucka”? No matter.) We now seem unlikely to plunge into the economic chaos that would have been created in the absence of a deal. Two of the world’s biggest trading partners remain relatively free to do business together.

Without further ado, let me offer a musical interlude to discuss a few thoughts about what we have in place.

It should be sung, of course, to the tune of YMCA by the Victor Willis and Jacques Morali and performed by the Village People.

Verse:

Young man, there’s no reason to feel down
I said, young man, a new deal is in town
I said, young man, we have USMCA
It will guide trade with U.S. of A.

Verse:

Young man, there’s a place you can drive
It’s a market, where our fleets they can thrive
$580 billion, crosses 49th line
Trucks haul more than half and that’s fine.

Do-Do-Do-Do-Do

Chorus:

It’s fun to truck with the USMCA
A missing deal would have blocked us on the way.
They promise streamlined crossings, for all the trucks to enjoy
Could reduced de-lays be our joy?
It’s fun to truck with the USMCA
And fun to ship with USMCA.
It’s time to get down to work, let’s wade deep into the weeds
Can we just get things moving please.

Verse:

Driver, you know just what I say
I said driver, you shouldn’t see the delays
I said driver, will they shred some red tape?
You have got to hope for that thing.

Driver, you shouldn’t pay for delays
I said, driver, they make for frustrating days.
Let’s push harder, for the promises made
Please help us CBP and CBSA.

I’ll spare you the extra verses and the ear worm that a reference to the Village People may have induced. But for all the promise that come with a free trade deal by any name, the most meaningful changes on the ground will involve efforts to streamline crossings.

This deal promises commitments to using technology that will expedite procedures when releasing goods, coordinating procedures and adjacent ports of entry, and establishing a “single window” for electronic document and data submissions. Those are just a few examples.

Individual sectors will face challenges and opportunities relating to the specific goods they trade. We won’t know the true impact of those for months or years to come.

But is it too much to hope that the promises of smoother crossings were more than political posturing?

Life could be better with USMCA. If it does, I’ll be among the first to sing its praises.

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