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Senate Passes USMCA – Heads to the President’s Desk

January 17, 2020 in Public Policy by Denise Bell

The Senate on Thursday passed President Trump’s United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) by a wide bipartisan vote of 89-10. The USMCA, which rewrites the North America Free Trade Agreement, will now be sent to the President’s desk to be signed into law. The President is expected to sign the measure next week.

Both Utah Senators, Mike Lee (R-UT) and Mitt Romney (R-UT), voted for the agreement. In a statement following the vote, Senator Lee said that “today’s passage of the USMCA was a huge win for all of Utah, especially the more than 120,000 Utahns whose jobs depend on trade with Mexico and Canada.” 

Senator Romney also issued a statement in support of the USMCA, stating that “this trade deal creates more balanced and reciprocal trade, raises labor standards, and protects our technology and intellectual property from those who don’t play by the rules.” Importantly, Romney also expressed disappointment that protections for Utah’s biologics industry were not ultimately included in the final deal.

As BioUtah has previously reported, the USMCA is a mixed bag for the life sciences industry. The agreement represents victories for the medical device industry, including recognition of international standards, elimination of duplicative regulatory requirements, and expansion of intellectual property protections. Critical wins. However, for the drug sector, provisions that would have strengthened exclusivity protections for biologic medicines were dropped in final negotiations with House Democrats. The exclusivity periods that protect makers of biologics from generic competition are much shorter in Mexico and Canada than in the U.S.

Mexico has already passed the agreement. Canada must still approve the deal. Its House of Commons is expected to pass the USMCA when it reconvenes later this month.