Senate Finance Subcommittee Eyes Expanding, Replicating USMCA in Latin America

By Jason Asenso

Inside Trade highlighted testimony from AS/COA's Eric Farnsworth at a Senate Committee on Finance hearing.

The Senate Finance international trade subcommittee this week looked at how to expand the reach of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, including through allowing more countries to join and applying some of USMCA’s elements to other agreements in the Western Hemisphere. 

During a May 16 hearing on economic cooperation in the Western Hemisphere, members of the Senate Finance international trade, customs, and global competitiveness subcommittee and witnesses discussed strategies to boost trade with Latin American countries amid increasing challenges that that they believe past free trade agreements have been unable to address. […]

At the hearing, Cassidy asked Council of the Americas Vice President Eric Farnsworth – who has long advocated for USMCA expansion – how Latin American countries could "bolt in” to the agreement. 

Farnsworth said USMCA partners would first need to update the text to include an accession clause, noting that such a move would allow the U.S. to expand “the only example of the new generation of bipartisan trade,” which includes provisions on labor, digital trade, the environment and clean energy “in a way that previous agreements did not.” Most other panelists identified the same provisions as areas where the U.S. needs to update its trade policy with Western Hemisphere trading partners. 

“For those who are arguing that those should be included in new trade agreements, the answer is yes, they should, on a bipartisan basis,” Farnsworth argued. “And the way to do that is to take the template we already have and to allow countries that have the capacity and the demonstrated will to meet those high standards to accede into that platform. I think that is a real opportunity for us.”…

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