© [2020], Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg, P.A. Originally published in the [05/21/2020] issue of the Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report. Reprinted by permission.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has opened a new USMCA Center to help coordinate implementation of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which enters into force July 1. The center is staffed with CBP experts from operational, legal, and audit disciplines as well as virtual representatives from Canadian and Mexican customs authorities.

(Click here for a list of upcoming ST&R webinars on specific provisions in the USMCA.)

According to CBP, the USMCA center will serve as a central communication hub for CBP and the private sector, including traders, brokers, freight forwarders, and producers. Center staff will work to facilitate a smooth transition from NAFTA to the USMCA by coordinating and scheduling outreach events, responding to training requests, developing and distributing information resources, and updating CBP regulations on pending USMCA topics and issues while also providing clear and transparent technical guidance on USMCA’s new compliance obligations. Staff will also work closely with CBP’s Centers of Excellence and Expertise and the ports to ensure agency implementation of the USMCA is uniform and supports U.S. economic security.

Inquiries to the USMCA Center can be directed to USMCA@cbp.dhs.gov.

In related news, President Trump issued May 15 an executive order establishing the Forced Labor Enforcement Task Force required by the USMCA. The mandate of this task force is to lead and improve U.S. agency coordination efforts to enforce both the USMCA’s prohibition on forced labor imports and the existing prohibition contained in U.S. law. A letter from House Ways and Means Committee members chastising the Trump administration for not meeting an April 28 deadline to establish this task force said it is needed to combat “the severity and pervasiveness of forced labor in the production of goods traded to the United States, including in the technology, apparel, and industrial sectors in China and the agricultural sector in Mexico.”

Finally, Ways and Means Chair Richard Neal, D-Mass., announced that an attorney with experience organizing and engaging with workers and the labor community in the U.S. has joined the Trade Subcommittee staff to support committee oversight of the USMCA.