"It's almost like you've been holding your breath, not totally sure you could relax," Lou Longo, a partner and international consulting practice leader at Plante Moran, told Automotive News.
With less than a month before USMCA takes effect, Longo said it's better for everyone that the regulations are out because now the industry can dig into the details, ask qualifying questions and plan ahead.
As of last week, the industry was still digesting the minute details laid out in the regulations. But at first glance, Longo said, he hadn't noticed any surprises and said it was clear the trade office had listened to the auto sector's concerns.
But compared with the North American Free Trade Agreement, which has been in place for 26 years, USMCA poses significantly more difficulties for automakers and suppliers for compliance because there are provisions that haven't existed before, he said.
That includes a first-of-its-kind requirement that a significant portion of auto content be made with high-wage labour and stricter rules for regional value content and steel and aluminum sourcing, among other key changes.
"This is a significantly different environment and a significantly different level of compliance and planning required for the industry and suppliers than they saw under NAFTA," Longo said.
NAFTA had some of the toughest auto rules of origin in a trade agreement — until USMCA, which is "even more stringent and more challenging to comply with," said Matt Blunt, president of the American Automotive Policy Council, a trade association representing the Detroit 3.