By RICARDO CASTILLO
USMCA to Take Effect July 1
The trilateral trade treaty known in the United States as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), in México as the T-MEC, and in Canada by the same old term as the previous accord, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), will most definitely go into effect on July 1.
The announcement was made Friday, April 25, by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer after the United States finished polishing up internal procedures for the treaty’s implementation, the only missing step needed for the go-ahead for the new pact.
The USMCA’s entry into force marks the beginning of a historic new chapter for North American trade by supporting more balanced, reciprocal trade, leading to freer markets, fairer commerce and robust economic growth throughout the region.
The agreement contains significant improvements and modernized approaches to rules of origin, agricultural market access, intellectual property, digital trade, financial services, labor and numerous other sectors.
These enhancements will deliver more jobs, provide stronger labor protections and expand market access, creating new opportunities for North American workers, farmers and ranchers.
“The crisis and recovery from the covid-19 pandemic demonstrates that now, more than ever, the United States should strive to increase manufacturing capacity and investment in North America,” Lighthizer said.
Second Customs Director Resigns
Senator Ricardo Ahued Bardahuil was the second director of the General Customs Administration of the Mexican Treasury Secretariat to resign, claiming personal incompetence to fight corruption.
He turned his resignation to Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) on Friday, April 24.
Ahued Bardahuil assumed the post in May a year ago to replace now-Interior Undersecretary Ricardo Peralta Saucedo.
Both failed officials declined the post that operates 49 customs ports of entry nationwide because they confessed their incompetence to fight the rampant corruption still prevailing in the administration.
It is even said that the top customs office in Nuevo Laredo, the largest import/export port, is under the invisible command of gangsters.
“It’s a thousand-headed monster,” AMLO said while accepting Ahued’s resignation.
It has been hinted that now with the imminent advent of the new version of the USMCA, both Canada and the United States are demanding a scrub and clean-up operation of all those who can’t cope with the corruption at Aduanas.
Ahued will return to his Senate seat on Tuesday, April 28, while it is expected that AMLO will appoint a top military brass officer to take over the Customs Department, by military force if necessary.
New Plans for Pemex
Also on Friday, April 14, AMLO said “we have a plan that consists on refining the largest amount of crude oil possible in the nation, and instead of thinking of the international market to sell oil and buy gas, we’re going to produce more gasoline.”
“We will self-sufficient in gasoline production and not sell a single barrel of crude,” he said.
“We are heading in that direction and that’s our objective.”
At the same time, the management of the state-run oil company Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex) issued an open letter to all of its executives and department heads to accept a 25 percent wage cut for the remainder of this year to help the bankrupt company pay interests on the more than $105 billion debt which got it rated by Moody’s Analytics as a junk bond investment.
CCE’s Salazar to Hold Roundtables
Business Coordination Council (CCE) president Carlos Salazár Lomelín invited both members and the public at large to participate and come up with private sector solutions to the growing covid-19 pandemic.
“The initiative is to have us come to a national agreement to find ‘the hows’ and to find mechanisms to help the nation,” Salazar Lomelín said.
“The business community invites all sectors of society, workers, employers, academicians, farm workers and public officials to a national conference for economic recovery.”
The virtual conferences will be held Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, April 27, 28 and 29, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., changing coordinators every two hours on different subjects, ranging from microbusinesses recovery to the agribusiness supply chain.
Check out the CCE web network.
The Treasury Secretariat’s Financial Investigation Unit (UIF) will be directly in charge of fentanyl imports, UIF Director Santiago Nieto explained to the Treasury Commission of the Chamber of Deputies.
The imports, mostly from China, will be made through the Customs Administration, for which there is considerable concern that the powerful anesthetic, which is a synthetic opiate, may be diverted or stolen.
Nieto expressed deep distrust for Customs (Aduanas) employees.
“We will make sure that Aduanas delivers the fentanyl to pharmaceutical companies for redistribution,” he said.
“It will end up only in hospitals for use as an anesthetic for people who are in intubation due to covid-19 infections. Once past the Aduanas, we have to make sure that it is not taken to other places where it could end up being used to produce psychotropic substances that could end up killing persons.”
The Mexican Secretariat of Labor and Social Prevision (STPS) announced that in the past two weeks it had shut down 131 maquiladora in-bond plants in the Tijuana and Rosarito municipalities forcing that the plants lead at home 75,621 workers, according to a Notimex report.
The suspension came after maquiladora operators refused to stop work activities despite protests from workers who claimed to have witnessed covid-19 contagions.
Nevertheless, not all plants were temporarily closed as a study by the Private Sector Economic Studies Center stated that out of the 911 in-bond assembly plants operating in the state of Baja California, 620, or 68 percent, continue to operate as usual.
As of Thursday, April 23, Baja California rated third among Mexican states with the most coronavirus cases, registering 1,047 confirmed cases, 136 deaths and 516 possibly infected patients.
Cases in the state’s five municipalities were broken down, with 588 cases in Tijuana, 392 in Mexicali, 21 in Ensenada, 35 in Tecate and 11 in Rosario Beach.
Banxico Loses Money
The Central Bank of Mexico (Banxico) reported losses of 166.444 billion pesos during 2019.
The negative outcome was due for peso devaluation losses of 138.610 billion pesos with $6.84 billion being reported into the dollar denominated international reserves, which tallied $180.877 billion at the end of 2019.
At last count, Mexico’s reserves in 2020 had increased to over $183 billion.
…April 27, 2020