Updates from ASLA

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No Changes for Landscape Architects’ Services in NAFTA 2.0

President Trump has long been a critic of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that was enacted in 1994. From the early days of his presidential campaign, Trump promised to renegotiate the terms with Canada and Mexico or cancel the agreement altogether. On September 30, 2018, the White House announced that the three nations had reached an agreement and released the final text of a new free trade agreement between the United States, Mexico, and Canada called USMCA. 

USMCA predominantly keeps the bulk of NAFTA intact. One of the biggest changes is that NAFTA was meant to remain in effect indefinitely with no review, whereas USMCA must be reviewed every six years by the three member nations. Most of the other major changes involve the production and import of automobiles and automobile parts, as well the wages of automobile assembly and manufacturing workers. 

The largest and most specific impact NAFTA had on landscape architects regarded temporary entry for business persons. This provision remains unchanged in USMCA. Under both the current and proposed agreements, business professionals are allowed temporary entry into the other member nations for the purpose of employment through work permits, as business visitors, or through intra-company transfers. Business professionals currently working abroad will not be required to leave or seek new permits or visas until their current ones expire. Additionally, landscape architects are still specifically mentioned within the new agreement as eligible for temporary entry. 

The process to enact USMCA in the United States is long and detailed. First, the agreement text is signed by President Trump, the President of Mexico, and the Prime Minister of Canada. The earliest this can occur is November 30, 2018. USMCA, much like NAFTA, is not a treaty and therefore must then pass both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate under a special process with specific time limits. If it passes Congress, and the president signs it, the agreement goes into effect three months after the United States, Mexico, and Canada have all completed their approval processes. Should it fail to be approved by all three nations, USMCA does not go into effect and NAFTA would remain in force as it is today. 

Whether USMCA or NAFTA is in effect, however, landscape architects will be eligible for business travel between all three nations under the same rules as today. ASLA will continue to follow this issue and inform its members of any updates on USMCA.

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