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Maine businesses and the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement

The USMCA went into effect on July 1. Canada is already Maine's largest export partner, according to Maine Small Business Administration.

AUGUSTA, Maine — The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement is now in effect replacing the North American Free Trade Agreement on July 1.

USMCA provides guidance, which could help support and expand Maine medium and small businesses with exports, according to Amy Bassett, the director of the Maine Small Business Administration

Why should Mainers care? Canada is Maine's largest export partner.

“The data back from 2018 is $1.5 billion in exports between Maine, Canada, and Mexico, with $1.4 billion of that being exports to Canada,” said Bassett.

Bassett says Maine’s top exports are fish, lobster, and seafood, followed by forestry and wood products, transportation equipment, and petroleum products. The new agreement could also help Maine farmers.

“There were some enhancements in the agricultural area that would update the rules and modernize the rules so that it made it more competitive, in particular with milk and poultry products, to be exported more cost-efficiently.”

This could potentially expand the reach of local business, beyond the border, and the Maine SBA wants owners to know it has loans and trade tools, and the Maine International Trade Center has grants to help explore exporting.

Business owners may also be weighing the cost-benefit of taking on more debt at this, following Economic Injury Disaster Loans and Paycheck Protection Program funds.

Bassett says to-date Maine companies have taken on 27,000 loans through PPP, which has paid out $2.2 billion, occupying the majority of the staffs' time at the Maine SBA over the past few months. With Congress working to extend the approval process through August 8, after the initial June 30 Paycheck Protection Program sunset period, more long days a likely ahead.

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