How the USMCA trade agreement affects consumers

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Most of the aspects of the new USMCA (US-Mexico-Canada) trade agreement are complex and will affect customers in many direct and indirect ways. But here is how consumers could be affected.

Higher duty-free limits

Canadians who buy goods from the United States online or by mail will get some relief on duties and taxes.

Currently the most you can ship into the country without paying extra was set at $20 for decades. Under the new deal, goods under $150 won’t be charged duties, though the GST and provincial sales tax will be charged on goods from $40 and up.

That could mean faster delivery of goods bought online in the US, CTV News reports, as fewer shipped items will receive attention from customs agents.

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But it will likely push back from retailers. The Retail Council of Canada had campaigned against a hike to duty free limits, arguing it could lead to “increases in cross-border orders, with the obvious negative consequences for retailers in Canada and their employees.”

Higher drug prices

Canada agreed to increase the patent length on a key class of drugs known as biologics to 10 years from eight years, caving to one of the US’s key demands.

That’s a positive for pharma companies’ bottom lines, but a negative for Canada’s health care system, which will see higher costs as it will now take longer before cheaper generic versions of drugs become available.

Books will disappear from the public domain

Canada has agreed to extend copyright protections terms to the life of the author plus 70 years, from its current life plus 50 years.

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This means that numerous books and other works by authors who died in the 1950s and 1960s will disappear from the public domain in Canada, and will be subject once again to copyright.

No more American Super Bowl ads

As part of the new trade deal, Canada has agreed to stop allowing US ads to be shown during the Super Bowl. Viewers will be disappointed to miss the mind-blowing commercials. Besides that they are welcome to watch the game.

Agriculture

In the first year the new deal comes into play, egg imports will increase by 10 million dozen. In the second year, market access for American eggs will increase one per cent each year for the next 10 years. The US chicken concession seems to have more than doubled the amount negotiated in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP): 57,000 metric tonnes phased in over six years, as opposed to nearly 27,000 metric tonnes phased in over 19 years. Starting in Year 7 of the USMCA, the chicken access also will increase one per cent each year for the next 10 years. -CINEWS

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