Who Benefits the Most From CUSMA, and What Are Its Advantages?


The Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) became active as of July 1st, 2020 and  the transition has been mostly seamless since it largely mirrors its predecessor, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Additionally, CUSMA provides several benefits to specific industries and sectors, including:

  • Agriculture
  • Automotive
  • Digital trade
  • Textiles and apparel

Perhaps the biggest benefactor of CUSMA is small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).For SMEs, understanding and properly applying the rules outlined in CUSMA is mandatory if you wish to claim preferential tariff treatment. 

Luckily, CUSMA makes attaining those tariff treatments relatively straightforward. Many SMEs wonder if CUSMA is a certificate of origin, but CUSMA does not require a specific certificate of origin (CO) form. Rather, it relies on nine specific data points to verify a product’s CO.

In this article, we’ll dive into the benefits and opportunities within CUSMA to SMEs in Canada.

CUSMA Benefits for SMEs

As your business grows, expanding to international markets can take you to the next level and open doors of opportunity. So, whether you’re looking to sell your goods or services in a new country or are seeking business partners in your supply chain, CUSMA can be leveraged to increase your global sales.

Competitive Edge

Unlike NAFTA, CUSMA creates specific advantageous conditions for SMEs, maintaining Canada’s preferential access to the US and Mexican markets for goods. CUSMA ensures that more than 99% of Canadian exports to the US and Mexico are eligible for duty-free treatment.

Additionally, CUSMA addresses the key challenges and barriers to doing business in the global marketplace. One example is addressing technical barriers to trade, which disproportionately affect SMEs.

Transparent and Stable Trade Conditions

Because CUSMA is a single set of high-standard rules for trade across North America, trade is more accessible, transparent, and predictable. CUSMA simplifies procedures for clearing goods through customs in member countries by making specific commitments to enhance transparency and make information available online for SMEs. 

These blanket regulations ensure consistency and promote fair business practices, leveling the playing field with enforceable rules on state-owned enterprises in the CUSMA markets.

Improved Access for Services Companies

Canada’s services industries have a comprehensive set of investment protections under CUSMA. CUSMA enhances the market access for these industries.

Lowered Barriers for Market Presence

CUSMA effectively lowers the costs of participating in international trade. This includes the creation of new rules that address potential barriers to digital trade and protecting the free flow of data across borders in member countries. CUSMA maintains Canada’s preferential access to the US and Mexican markets for the temporary entry of business persons.

Opportunities for SMEs in the US and Mexico

CUSMA notoriously supports SMEs by maintaining and improving Canadian access to the US and Mexico by keeping the border open for your products, services, and temporary movement of your workers. With CUSMA, your company has preferential access to more than 450 million consumers and 99% of Canadian exports to the US and Mexico benefit from duty-free treatment.

Explore CUSMA’s SME Chapter

While industries of all types and categories can benefit from CUSMA, Canada has made a pointed effort in CUSMA negotiations to create benefits for SMEs. By maintaining and providing new market access to the US and Mexico, your business can reach new audiences, experience streamlined customs and origin procedures, and enjoy greater transparency in government regulations.

This post is just the tip of the iceberg–CUSMA contains a specific SME chapter complementing commitments undertaken throughout the agreement, designed to foster cooperation amongst the parties to increase trade and investment opportunities for SMEs.

About the author

Author: FITT Team

The Forum for International Trade Training (FITT) is the standards, certification and training body dedicated to providing international business training, resources and professional certification to individuals and businesses. Created by business for business, FITT’s international business training solutions are the standard of excellence for global trade professionals around the world.

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