U.S. Customs and Border Protection this week announced the opening of the USMCA Center in Washington, D.C., to help coordinate implementation of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which is set to enter into force on July 1.
A “cornerstone of CBP’s USMCA implementation plan,” the center will serve as the main communications hub for the agency and the private sector during the period of transition from the North American Free Trade Agreement to USMCA.
CBP Team and Services Provided
Staffed with about a dozen CBP experts from operational, legal, and audit disciplines, the center will deal with issues such as regulatory and automation changes that will occur within cargo systems, new rules-of-origin requirements, as well as new labor laws enacted by USMCA. The group will also be working in collaboration with Canadian and Mexican customs authorities regarding any cross-border issues that arise.
In terms of services to help the trade community make the transition, “they will have a one-stop shop to be able to go to for all their questions and concerns as we implement and enforce this landmark trade agreement,” said John Leonard, CBP’s executive director for trade policies and programs, in a conference call with reporters.
Inquiries for the USMCA Center should be directed to USMCA@cbp.dhs.gov.
The bulk of the USMCA’s implementing rules were issued on April 21. The agency is “working now with the trade community to make sure that we’ve identified any gaps in implementation and can address those,” said Brenda Smith, Executive Assistant Commissioner of CBP’s Office of Trade.
Smith indicated that the target date for completion of the implementing instructions is June 15. She also noted that U.S. trade officials are working to finish the uniform regulations by June 1.
Limited Informed Compliance
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative is disinclined to allow for a transitional period of “informed compliance” when it comes to most importers — the automotive industry being a notable exception — “because most of the rules of origin have remained essentially the same,” Smith said.
Need More Information?
Check out our comprehensive page on USMCA/CUSMA here.
If you have any questions or concerns about how the implementation of CUSMA/USMCA might impact your business, don’t hesitate to contact one of our trade experts today.