SC Commissioner Hugh Weathers: USMCA

The U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement has been a hot topic in ag circles. Commissioner Hugh Weathers is here to tell us why it’s important.


  • The U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement, or USMCA, is a new trade agreement being considered by Congress this week. The House passed it in December.
  • For the past 25 years, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) nearly eliminated Mexican and Canadian tariffs on U.S. exports, which was good for U.S. farmers.
  • USMCA is a great opportunity to modernize NAFTA.
  • Mexico and Canada are two of this country’s biggest export markets for food and agricultural products. Those exports more than quadrupled from $8.9 billion in 1993, the year before NAFTA began, to $45 billion in 2019.
  • In 2016, South Carolina had $126 million in agricultural exports to Canada and $21 million to Mexico.
  • USMCA will open the Canadian market to U.S. dairy, poultry and eggs, a key long-held priority for U.S. farmers.
  • Also updates some trade policies on intellectual property and sanitary and phytosanitary measures. On occasion, these measures can become non-tariff barriers to trade.
  • A lot of work has gone into this new trade agreement, and I hope we’ll see it fully ratified and in effect soon. That depends on Washington, and I’ve learned not to count on too much to be done in a timely fashion.