By Rep. Brad Wenstrup
January 7, 2020
After months of delay, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement finally passed the House, clearing a major hurdle toward adoption. The agreement is now making its way through the Senate before it heads to President Trump’s desk to be signed.
Trump, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, and members of Congress worked diligently to negotiate this agreement, an agreement that will strengthen our nation’s trade with our neighbors Canada and Mexico. For over a year, Speaker Nancy Pelosi delayed due consideration, holding our economy back with 20th-century trade standards.
Despite these stall tactics, USMCA has, at long last, passed out of the House. American farmers, manufacturers, and workers are now one step closer to having an agreement that supports their needs in a growing 21st-century economy.
It’s been 25 years since our North American trade agreement was updated. Consumers are purchasing goods online and across borders more than ever before, and the updates in USMCA ensure American companies can take full advantage of digital trade by embracing innovations that push our economy forward. USMCA provides essential modernizations to our trade with Canada and Mexico by recognizing the growing presence and economic opportunity that digital trade has to offer American businesses.
USMCA also includes a new section dedicated to helping small and medium businesses. Small and medium businesses make up 98% of our nation’s exporters — it’s time we have a trade agreement that focuses on their needs. USMCA helps save these businesses time and money by streamlining customs procedures at our northern and southern borders so their products can be easily exported to our neighboring countries.
In addition to supporting innovation, small and medium businesses, and ushering North American trade into the 21st century, USMCA also brings balance back to our nation’s trade relationships with Canada and Mexico.
For decades, America has operated under higher standards of workplace regulations, sanitation standards, and transparency in our trade practices than Mexico. This new agreement raises Mexican labor standards, which will lead to higher wages and help American workers compete on a level playing field. It also requires Canada and Mexico to develop and maintain transparent agricultural regulatory standards. These reforms make it easier to sell “made in America” products in our neighboring countries, increasing our potential exports. American farmers will now be able to export more food products, such as dairy, chicken, and eggs, to Canada because of the upgrades to agricultural market access secured in USMCA.
Our economy relies on trade with our North American neighbors, and these additions will support American companies and farmers. Currently, trade with Mexico and Canada supports 12 million American jobs, and USMCA is predicted to add another 176,000 new American jobs along with over $68 billion in new economic activity.
USMCA is the product of Trump’s continued emphasis on placing American interests first. This updated trade agreement is a win for the U.S., and, on a larger scale, a win for North America. I was proud to vote to pass this new trade agreement out of the House because it puts the needs of American innovators, workers, and farmers, first.
Securing this new trade agreement with our neighbors will give the U.S. momentum to further modernize our trade agreements around the world. I look forward to future deals with countries such as Japan, the United Kingdom, and other allies to promote free markets for American goods and to challenge trade cheats.
For over a year, the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress emphasized the urgency of passing USMCA. Pelosi ignored the wishes of Republicans and Democrats alike and ignored the needs of our nation’s trade industries and workers just to deny the president a win on trade.
But America doesn’t have to wait any longer. Now, our farmers, manufacturers, and workers will finally have a trade agreement that modernizes North American trade, boosts our economy, and strengthens our nation’s role in the global trading market. Finally, Americans will have a trade agreement that works for them.
Rep. Brad Wenstrup, a Republican, represents Ohio’s 2nd Congressional District. He is a member of the House Committee on Ways and Means. You can follow him on Twitter: @RepBradWenstrup.