Canada should make the most of the Canada-U.S.-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) review process

It should push to strengthen labour rights and environmental enforcement in the agreement
May 30, 2024

OTTAWA—The Canadian government shouldn't be passive in the upcoming Canada-U.S.-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) review process; it should strive to make the trade agreement more worker- and climate-friendly, says a new report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA).

Making the Most of the CUSMA Review is a collaborative assessment of CUSMA led by CCPA Senior Researcher Stuart Trew. It proposes that Canada consult civil society groups to develop progressive improvements to the agreement rather than bowing to inevitable pressure from the U.S. to accept their priorities for the 2026 CUSMA review.

“We need more than a defensive ‘Team Canada’ strategy of lobbying U.S. policymakers and praying for a smooth CUSMA rollover,” said Trew “Instead, Canada should act as if a partial renegotiation of CUSMA were inevitable —whether there is a Democrat or Republican in the White House—and should bring some ideas forward to make the deal more worker- and climate-friendly.” 

The report recommends 25 potential improvements to CUSMA that would: 

  • enhance worker rights and labour enforcement in all three countries;
  • strengthen the treaty’s environmental provisions and enforcement mechanism while shielding climate policies from potential trade challenges;
  • strengthen automotive rules-of-origin to bolster the North American auto sector as it transitions to electric vehicle production; 
  • defuse risks to Mexico from costly investor-state lawsuits;
  • remove risks to privacy and progressive, anti-monopoly policy from the digital trade chapter; and
  • include gender and Indigenous Peoples chapters that did not make it into the original NAFTA renegotiation.

“Progress in any of these areas may depend on the political configuration of the continent after elections in all three countries. Still, Canada would be wise to come to the table with a solid list of proposals as leverage in a potentially stressful negotiation. A simple reapproval of CUSMA would be a lost opportunity given clear problems with the agreement and shifts in thinking about trade policy,” said Trew.

Making the most of the CUSMA review: is available at https://policyalternatives.ca/publications/reports/making-most-cusma-review


 

For more information and interviews please contact Amanda Klang, CCPA Senior Communications Specialist (Media & PR) at [email protected]

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