It’s Time to Renew Your Free Trade Agreement Documents
If you are already a business professional who knows what a USMCA or CUSMA Certificate of Origin is, what its benefits are, and how best to take advantage of North America’s list of trade agreements, then all you need to know is that it’s time to renew your certifications. We recommend you contact us here at PCB, and we can help you get a head start on your Free Trade Agreement (FTA) renewal requirements quickly and effectively.
However, if you need a reminder of what a free trade agreement is, what the differences between CUSMA, T-MEC, USMCA, and NAFTA are, or how best to go about navigating the certification process, please read on.
What is a Free Trade Agreement?
FTA stands for ‘Free Trade Agreement,’ and it is an agreement between nations to eliminate or significantly reduce trade barriers like tariffs. Canada and the United States have long lists of free trade agreements with many nations in the world, and they function as a means of encouraging trade by making it easier to do so.
What is CUSMA, and Is There a Significant Difference Between It, USMCA, T-MEC, and NAFTA?
CUSMA, USMCA, and T-MEC are all names for the same free trade agreement between the USA, Canada, and Mexico. It serves only to differentiate the country you are in or speaking to. Fortunately, there is no operational difference between them save the name, and can be used then interchangeably. This is crucially different from CUSMA, USMCA, and T-MEC’s relationship to NAFTA, which they replaced entirely in 2018.
The differences between USMCA and NAFTA are explored in incredible detail elsewhere on our blog, but the short version is there are vital differences to keep in mind, and you should give yourself a refresher there or from the official CUSMA and USMCA sources.
Renewing Your CUSMA, USMCA, or T-MEC Certificate
With, arguably, one of North America’s most prolific FTAs - CUSMA/USMCA/T-MEC at the front of your mind, it’s time to apply it to your business. The year is ending, and if you regularly move products across borders, you need to update your CUSMA Certificate of Origin ASAP.
What is a Certificate of Origin?
The USMCA/CUSMA/T-MEC Certificate of Origin is the document that indicates your goods comply with the Rules of Origin set out by these agreements. Every year, you can declare your goods as being compliant with these FTA renewal requirements and then file it with your Customs Broker and Importer of Record. If you follow our helpful guide and get started on this now, you will be in tremendous shape heading into the new year.
Rules of Origin
At its most basic level, these rules define where your product is produced. For example, goods like plants or vegetables are entirely grown in their country of origin and are typically straightforward, but it can get tricky when goods come from a mix of locations or are highly manufactured. It can all get very case-by-case as the rules of origin can include specific origin, content, and processing requirements, but a great place to start working through the process is on our Country of Origin guide. Beyond that, the best thing you can do to be sure you are following the rules is to get in touch with one of our Trade Advisors for clarification and advice.
How Do I Renew My Certificate of Origin?
How does a business professional go about acquiring a CUSMA, USMCA, or T-MEC Certificate? The best place to begin is with our helpful Certificate of Origin guide, which comes with a detailed walk-through of the process. If it seems overwhelming, please contact one of our Trade Advisors for more advanced help.
For more information about FTAs in Canada, please visit our detailed FTA guide and the Government of Canada’s CUSMA resource. For the United States, the Department of State provides an FTA guide of their own. And, for Mexico-based perspective, be sure to have a look at their T-MEC guide.