Canada to take up USMCA ratification next week

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday he expects Parliament to ratify NAFTA’s successor next week, the last step before the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement can take effect and ensure continued stable flows of cross-border freight.

Trudeau’s government will introduce legislation to ratify USMCA on Jan. 29.

“Passing the new NAFTA is our priority,” Trudeau said during a news conference in Winnipeg, Manitoba. “Millions of Canadians depend on stable, reliable trade with our largest trading partners.”

Canada’s Parliament remains the final hurdle after ratifications by the U.S. and Mexico.

USCMA has particular importance to Canadian trucking companies, which move the largest share of the cross-border freight between Canada and the United States.

Steven Laskowski, president of Canadian Trucking Alliance, which represents carriers across the country, welcomed the news.

“The U.S. is our nation’s top trading partner and a key origin and destination for many of our members,” Laskowski told FreightWaves.

While Trudeau said he expects swift passage, his minority Liberal government will need to secure support from opposition parties, which have criticized trade concessions in the deal.

Still, Canada’s reliance on its economic relationship with the U.S. means the agreement will most likely secure ratification with support from Conservative lawmakers.

USMCA shouldn’t bring significant changes for Canada’s trucking industry, but it could bring more freight in some lanes. The agreement provides for a small increase in U.S. dairy imports to Canada, which could benefit cross-border carriers that move refrigerated loads.