Even as the Trump administration is taking a strong line on renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement, the American Institute of CPAs signed a five-year renewal of the mutual recognition agreement with leaders of the Mexican and Canadian accounting groups.

The ceremony, which was held at the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy’s annual meeting in New York this week, brought together AICPA president and CEO Barry Melancon, along with officials from NASBA, CPA Canada, Comité Mexicano para la Práctica Internacional de la Contaduría and Instituto Mexicano de Contadores Públicos.

The AICPA and NASBA originally signed a reciprocity agreement with a Canadian accounting body in 1991 and then made it a tripartite agreement by bringing in a Mexican accounting organization in 2002.

AICPA building in Durham, N.C.
AICPA building in Durham, N.C. Photo: AICPA

Under the renewed agreement, U.S. CPAs going to either Canada or Mexico will be able to take advantage of an accelerated pathway to professional credentials in those countries. The same is true of professional accountants from Canada and Mexico who wish to pursue practice rights in the United States.

“Business is increasingly international in scope, which requires CPAs to be more global-minded than ever before,” said AICPA president and CEO Barry Melancon in a statement. “The professional reciprocity that is embedded in this agreement will give U.S. CPAs a clear and consistent path to obtaining a credential in Canada and/or Mexico. This MRA is a testament to the close relationship between the three nations’ accounting institutes, the AICPA’s longstanding collaboration with NASBA, and our common desire to help accounting credential holders gain practice privileges in other countries.”

In contrast, U.S. officials have been struggling to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico to fulfill a campaign promise from President Donald Trump. Trump has threatened to pull out of NAFTA, a deal signed during the Clinton administration that he has continually disparaged. Last month Trump said that if the three countries are unable to renegotiate the deal, "It'll be terminated and that will be fine."

Separately on Wednesday, the AICPA released the latest in a series of working drafts of accounting issues related to the implementation of the new revenue recognition standard for various industries. The two drafts relate to broker-dealers and the telecommunications industry:

The AICPA is asking for feedback on the drafts by Jan. 2, 2018. The final versions will eventually be included in the AICPA’s Revenue Recognition Guide.

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Michael Cohn

Michael Cohn

Michael Cohn, editor-in-chief of AccountingToday.com, has been covering business and technology for a variety of publications since 1985.