On 30 November 2018, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) was signed. This new agreement will replace the nearly 25 year old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), as soon as it is ratified by the congressional bodies of the member countries. The signing of the USMCA is a significant development as within North America goods and services are traded and exchanged in amounts close to $1.14 trillion dollars every year, creating one of the most productive, dynamic and largest free trade zones in the world.

The USMCA is comprised of 34 chapters, 11 annexes and 12 side letters, and a number of notable chapters focus on key issues such as intellectual property, enforcement provisions, energy, standards of protection for trade secrets, digital trade, financial services and labour, among others.

Chapter 27, which deals with the fight against corruption, deserves additional scrutiny. Arguably,

Chapter 27 fails to take full advantage of the opportunity to create a real instrument that serves and commits parties to directly combat corruption. That is not to say that Chapter 27 should be deleted or not included in the USMCA, however given the importance of the fight against corruption and the opportunity to greatly advance the international anticorruption legal framework, Chapter 27 does not go far enough.

These failing are particularly evident in Article 27.9, which focuses on cooperation. Though this is the most impactful paragraph concerning the fight against corruption, the parties of the USMCA fell short in its drafting and did not generate the necessary obligations that will guarantee that the parties can effectively fight corruption.

Jul-Sep 2019 Issue

ScottHulse PC