With House members pushing for changes to the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement’s (USMCA) legal text and Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) directing working groups of Democratic members to work with U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer on changes to address their concerns, the question of whether a trade agreement can be reopened and renegotiated after signing has been raised. In an effort to inform that debate with some facts, CSIS reviewed trade agreements the United States entered into after the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and examined whether any of them were modified after signing.
In brief, we concluded that of the 12 agreements reviewed, six were subject to subsequent modification. In all six cases, new side letters were signed after the agreement was signed. In three cases, the text of the agreement itself was reopened. Below are the details of our conclusions. Agreements post-NAFTA are set out in the order by which they entered into force. The “days in between” calculation refers to the number of days between the agreement’s signing and its entry into force, which in most cases was well after the date of final congressional approval. In addition, links are provided to the text of each agreement and any side letters that were added.