Energy-Efficiency Regulations to Be Harmonized Under USMCA

Energy-Efficiency Regulations to Be Harmonized Under USMCA

This piece was originally published in the September/October 2019 issue of electroindustry.

Ricardo Vazquez, Mexico Manager, NEMA and Craig Updyke, Director, Trade and Commercial Affairs, NEMA

As part of the new trade agreement between the United States, Mexico, and Canada, federal agencies will seek to harmonize their energy conservation Standards and test procedures for regulated products. With the goals of increasing energy efficiency and facilitating market  access, the three national regulators are to endeavor to harmonize mandatory regulations over the first nine years of the new agreement and promote open and transparent voluntary initiatives.

The United States–Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), signed November 30, 2018, builds on, modernizes, and is meant to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Annex 12-D of Chapter 12 of USMCA commits the governments to seek to harmonize mandatory energy-efficiency Standards and test procedures and to ensure voluntary initiatives, such as the U.S. government’s ENERGY STAR® program, do not create trade barriers.

Specifically, for products that all three countries already regulate for energy conservation, the governments will try to harmonize the test procedures for those products during the first eight years of the USMCA. Similarly, the regulators will seek to harmonize the applicable energy performance Standards within nine years. In addition, when developing or modifying energy performance Standards or test procedures for a product, each regulator must give consideration to Standards and test procedures already in place in the partner countries, including industry Standards.

While encouraging the use of voluntary programs and mechanisms, the agreement specifies such arrangements should be “open, transparent, and designed in a manner that maximizes benefits to consumers and environmental benefits, and avoids the creation of unnecessary barriers to trade.”

Finally, the annex also commits the three countries to facilitate and promote trade and investment in “clean technologies.”

USMCA also contains a separate chapter on environmental issues, including but not limited to cooperation on air quality, litter, and wildlife protection, as well as enforcement of national laws. The original NAFTA does not contain any commitments on environmental  issues, but in conjunction with the trade agreement the three countries created in 1994 a separate North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation. In contrast, USMCA commitments on environmental protection, contained in Chapter 24, are fully part of the trade agreement and enforceable.

Mexico’s Congress ratified USMCA on June 19. The U.S. Congress and the Canadian Parliament are expected to act on USMCA legislation as early as September. When USMCA enters into force, Mexico’s Economy Secretary will be responsible for implementation, in coordination with partner federal agencies including the National Commission for the Efficient Use of Energy (CONUEE).

In the meantime, NEMA Mexico is participating  in the development of mandatory energy-efficiency regulations under development in several CONUEE technical working groups, including for electric motors and lighting products, in order to promote harmonization with U.S. and NEMA specifications. ei

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