iPolitics — Legislation implementing the new North American trade agreement received royal assent Friday after its passage was expedited ahead of Parliament suspending due to the coronavirus outbreak.
CAPTION: Chrystia Freeland
Bill C-4 was introduced in late January after member countries agreed to changes to the agreement prompted by demands from U.S. House Democrats. These last-minute amendments touch on environment and labour provisions, as well as scrapping the extended patent protection period for biologic drugs.
At the start of Friday, Bill C-4 was at a third reading stage in the House of Commons but a unanimous motion passed by the chamber later in the morning passed the bill and sent it to the Senate. The upper chamber quickly passed the legislation after beginning its sitting at 11 a.m. and it received royal assent soon after. Both the House and Senate are adjourning for the next five weeks because of the coronavirus outbreak.
Before today, Canada was the only country that has yet to ratify the trade deal, formally known in Canada as the Canada-United-States-Mexico-Agreement (CUSMA), since U.S. President Donald Trump signed the deal into law in January.
An initial deal was signed by all three countries in November 2018.
A report from the non-partisan C.D. Howe Institute estimated the new North American trade deal will lower Canada’s “economic welfare” — a term which broadly refers to the level of prosperity and standard of living enjoyed in a particular country or area — by over $10 billion, but the blow would be larger if the existing continental pact would be allowed to expire.
Despite provisions expanding U.S. access to Canada’s protected dairy and poultry markets and increases to the threshold of non-tariffed goods in Canada and Mexico, more stringent requirements for products to qualify for duty-free market access in the deal will “impact negatively on economic welfare and efficiency,” reads the report.
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