USMCA: What Didn't Happen

24 October 2018

Canada, the United States and Mexico signed a new trade agreement on September 30, 2018 called USMCA: United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.  Evelyn Ackah, founder and managing lawyer of Ackah Business Immigration Law, was interviewed by The Walrus on what the USMCA will mean for Canada:  

As a corporate immigration lawyer, I’m pleased that the new USMCA trade agreement addresses temporary foreign workers in all three countries. It essentially continues the work-permit system under NAFTA. I’m disappointed, however, that the list of professions under the agreement—there are about sixty-six on it—wasn’t updated in the USMCA. It has not been updated since 1994. This list includes occupations like doctor, lawyer, scientist, accountant, economist, and teacher, but it does not include any professions in today’s software and technology industries, which have made up the majority of emerging markets over the last ten years. The USMCA didn’t make any changes at all to the list. I understand the importance of dairy, lumber, and steel, absolutely, but discussions of human resources and human capital shouldn’t be kept on the sidelines when they are so critical to the economic expansion of Canada. 

Long term, this could surely limit us. As a country, we’re trying to attract people and businesses in high-tech industries—including in many professions that didn’t exist in 1994. Not including their job titles in the “professionals” listing doesn’t make their entry as temporary workers very easy. While we could often find a way to work within the NAFTA list by being creative, it could get harder and harder as professions keep changing. We may continue to lose out on highly skilled people or otherwise delay their ability to get started on contributing to Canada and to our economy. Then, speaking of emerging industries, there’s also cannabis. What can we do to ensure US immigration recognizes this is our law in Canada and it isn’t offside for people in the industry to cross the border for meetings? This has yet to be resolved, but it’s certainly something we should consider going forward, especially as the industry grows.

Read the full article here: Canada’s Not-Great, Not-Terrible Trade Agreement 

 


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