The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) entered into force on July 1, 2020, replacing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Unlike NAFTA, USMCA includes clearly defined environmental provisions for the three signatory countries. Chapter 24, or the USMCA Environment Chapter, outlines seven key multilateral environmental agreements that the United States, Canada, and Mexico commit to enforce and uphold as a part of USMCA. The USMCA commits the United States, Canada, and Mexico to take actions to combat trafficking in timber, fish, and other fauna and wildlife. For the first time in a U.S. trade agreement, the USMCA also addresses other pressing environmental issues such as air quality and marine litter.
The seven environmental agreements that all USMCA signatory nations agree to uphold are:
- Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)
- Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer
- Protocol of 1978 Relating to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships
- Convention on Wetlands of International Importance Especially as Waterfowl Habitat
- Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources
- International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling
- Convention for the Establishment of an Inter-American Tropical Tuna
The USMCA addresses key environmental challenges, such as illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing and harmful fisheries subsidies. The USMCA commits the United States, Canada, and Mexico to take actions to combat trafficking in timber, fish, and other fauna and wildlife. For the first time in a U.S. trade agreement, the USMCA also addresses other pressing environmental issues such as air quality and marine litter. CBP, along with other partner government agencies, is strongly committed to enforce these environmental obligations.
The Interagency Environment Committee for Monitoring and Enforcement (IECME) was created to implement, monitor, and enforce these USMCA environmental obligations. The group is chaired by the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) and includes several key government agencies:
- U.S. Customs and Border Protection
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
- Environmental Protection Agency
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
- U.S. Department of Agriculture
- U.S. Forest Service
- U.S. Department of Agriculture/Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
- U.S. Department of State
- U.S. Department of Justice
- U.S. Department of Treasury
- U.S. Agency for International Development
The USMCA’s Environment Chapter encourages public participation. If you have reason to believe that an environmental law is not being effectively enforced by Canada, Mexico, or the United States, you can file a Submission on Enforcement Matters (SEM) directly through the Secretariat of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation as per Article 24.27.
The Customs Verification Agreement, negotiated alongside the USMCA, is a separate and additional bilateral tool to facilitate cooperation between the United States and Mexico regarding specific shipments of fisheries, timber, and wildlife (including live) products. It allows parties to request information to verify whether an importer has provided accurate and adequate documentation demonstrating a shipment’s legality.
To implement these environmental obligations, CBP has three main goals:
- Improve CBP’s enforcement tools and enhance collaboration among CBP and partner agencies to produce and utilize intelligence and data that will effectively target high-risk shipments for inspections and entities for verifications.
- Expand U.S. border enforcement capacity to implement environmental obligations of the USMCA, specifically concerning but not limited to illegal logging and associated trade and illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing.
- Expand CBP’s engagement with the trade community to ensure compliance with U.S. laws and regulations associated with the environmental obligations under USMCA, facilitate legal imports, and effectively manage risks and enforcement resources.