Lindsay Mitchell

Oct 30, 2018  |  Today's News |  Exports |  Legislation & Regulation

Perhaps you aren’t already well acquainted, but there is a pretty strict set of rules and guidelines that President Trump must follow as he and his administration negotiate a new trade agreement.  Likewise, Congress must also meet certain dates and actions in order for the new agreement to be enacted.        


Here’s what has already happened:


  • On May 18, 2017, The Trump administration submitted to Congress written notice of the intent to begin renegotiating NAFTA with Canada and Mexico.
  • On July 17, 2017, the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) released the NAFTA negotiating objectives.
  • On August 16, 2017, the first round of negotiations began.
  • On September 22, 2017, according to public reports, the USTR notified Congress of potential changes to trade remedy laws.
  • On August 31, 2018, President Trump notified Congress of his intent to sign a trade agreement “with Mexico – and Canada, if it is willing.”
  • On September 30, 2018, the USTR published the full text of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.


Under Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), Congress agrees to consider free trade agreements without amendment and within a specific time period as long as certain negotiating objectives, transparency requirements, and reporting deadlines are met by the President.


The President can’t sign the USMCA until 60 days after he has published the full text of the agreement.  In this case, 60 days after September 30 would be December 29.  We can know, for certain, that the President will not sign the agreement until at least that date.


And the President doesn’t give the report to Congress about changes in law needed until 60 days after the date of signing. This gets us into a new session of Congress when potential changes to the party in power – depending on next week’s election - could come into play.


Bottom line, this agreement will be “in process” for quite a while yet.  This graphic helps to understand everything that will happen between now and show time.