View SME-focused commitments

CUSMA includes a new small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) chapter as well as a competitiveness chapter that recognize the increasingly large economic contribution made by small companies across North America. Other elements have been added across the agreement to better address SME interests in North American trade.

SME chapter

The CUSMA SME chapter is designed to complement commitments throughout the Agreement, notably by fostering cooperation between Canada, the US, and Mexico to increase trade and investment opportunities. This ensures information is available to SMEs on the obligations and functioning of the Agreement by:

  • promoting increased trade and investment opportunities for SMEs, including through cooperation on support initiatives, joint activities to promote SMEs owned by under-represented groups, and the exchange of information and best practices
  • recognizing Indigenous peoples, women, youth and minorities as groups who may benefit from strengthened collaboration on SME promotion activities designed to increase participation in international trade
  • including requirements to make information available that is specifically tailored for SMEs’ use, including information on entrepreneurship education programs for youth and under-represented groups, and information on obligations in the Agreement that are particularly relevant to SMEs - an issue previously identified by Canadian SMEs as a challenge to leveraging the opportunities created by FTAs
  • establishing a Committee on SME issues and a trilateral SME dialogue, which includes private sector stakeholders, to discuss issues of the agreement that are relevant to SMEs

Competitiveness chapter

The CUSMA competitiveness chapter establishes a committee which provides advice and recommendations, as appropriate, to the Free Trade Commission on ways to further enhance the competitiveness of the North American economy, including recommendations aimed at enhancing the participation of SMEs, and enterprises owned by under-represented groups including women, Indigenous peoples, youth, and minorities.

Other SME related commitments

There are provisions in other chapters of this Agreement that seek to enhance cooperation among the Parties on SME issues or that otherwise may be of particular benefit to SMEs. These include: 

Origin Procedures

  • Article 5.18 (Committee on Rules of Origin and Origin Procedures) recognizing that SMEs can benefit from additional guidance to aid them in understanding rules of origin and origin procedures, the Committee established under this article shall provide practical and useful guidance to ensure better compliance with the rules and procedures of chapters 4 (Rules of Origin), 5 (Origins Procedures), and Chapter 6 (Textile and Apparel Goods), including examples or guidance that would be of particular assistance to SMEs in the territories of the Parties. 

Cross-Border Trade in Services

  • Article 15.10 (Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises) encourages Parties to support the development of SMEs trade in services and SME-enabling business models, such as direct selling services, in ways that enable their participation in regulatory policy development and ensure that authorization procedures do not impose disproportionate burdens on SMEs. 

Digital Trade

  • Article 19.17 (Interactive Computer Services) recognizes the importance of the promotion of interactive computer services, including for SMEs, as vital to the growth of digital trade.
  • Article 19.18 (Open Government Data) provides that the Parties will cooperate to identify ways in which they can expand access to and use of government information, including publicly available data, to enhance and generate business opportunities, especially for SMEs. 

Intellectual Property

  • Article 20.14 (Committee on Intellectual Property Rights) establishes a Committee on IP rights which will discuss a range of IP-related issues, such as intellectual property issues particularly relevant to SMEs.

Labor

  • Article 23.12 (Cooperation) recognizes the importance of cooperation as a mechanism for effective implementation of the Chapter, including activities related to the promotion of productivity, innovation, competitiveness, training and human capital development in workplaces, particularly in respect to SMEs.

Environment

  • Article 24.17 (Marine Wild Capture Fisheries) recognizes the importance of artisanal, small scale and Indigenous fisheries and acknowledges the importance of taking measures for the conservation and sustainable management of fisheries, and of promoting and facilitating trade in sustainably managed and legally harvested fish and fish products, while ensuring that trade in these products is not subject to unnecessary or unjustifiable barriers to trade.

Competitiveness

  • Article 26.1 (North American Competitiveness Committee) establishes the Competitiveness Committee which shall, among others, provide advice and recommendations on ways to further enhance the competitiveness of the North American economy, including recommendations aimed at enhancing the participation of SMEs, and enterprises owned by under-represented groups including women, Indigenous peoples, youth, and minorities.

Anticorruption

  • Article 27.5 (Participation of Private Sector and Society) suggests that Parties may promote the participation of the private sector and civil society in the prevention and fight against corruption by taking action such as, adopting or maintaining of measures to encourage nongovernmental organizations in their efforts to encourage and assist enterprises, in particular SMEs, in developing internal controls, ethics and compliance programs or measures for preventing and detecting bribery and corruption in international trade and investment.

Good Regulatory Practices

  • Article 28.4 (Internal Consultation, Coordination, and Review) requires Parties to adopt processes and mechanisms to, among other goals, promote the consideration of regulatory burdens on small enterprises of information collection and implementation.
  • Article 28.11 (Regulatory Impact Assessment) provides that a Party will consider whether a proposed regulation may have significant adverse economic effects on a substantial number of small enterprises and, if so, potential steps to minimize those adverse economic impacts.
  • Article 28.13 (Retrospective Review) requires that each Party adopt or maintain procedures or mechanisms, including provisions addressing impacts on small enterprises, to carry out retrospective reviews of its regulations in order to determine whether modification or repeal is appropriate.
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