Even though House Democrats have been focused on impeachment, the Trump administration is well along the path to improving our trade policies with Canada and Mexico, two of our most critical trading partners, by replacing the nearly 25-year old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).
This effort involved significant negotiation to modernize and rebalance the outdated NAFTA agreement to ensure American employers, workers, and communities benefit from an improved, 21st Century trade agreement that helps us compete on a level playing field.
This agreement includes important improvements to NAFTA to strengthen the U.S. economy and industry sectors, such as our auto industry and agricultural interests.
Not only does this proposed agreement improve upon existing NAFTA obligations, it includes important new provisions on digital trade and data transfer that were not considered in the 1994 NAFTA negotiation.
By working to update and improve our agreements with critical trading partners, the administration is ensuring these agreements are rebalanced to address the current needs of our economy and drive future growth.
Coming from a state which had more than $7 billion in exports to Mexico and Canada in 2017, and in which the agriculture and auto industries are an important driver of economic development, I recognize the benefit this agreement will have on our local communities in Alabama.
According to the April 2019 U.S. International Trade Commission report on USMCA, the provisions related to autos are estimated to increase U.S. production of automotive parts and employment in the sector.
By expanding upon NAFTA with higher regional value content requirements, and adding other requirements, USMCA will help the growing automobile manufacturing sector in Alabama and across the country.
Our agricultural sector and our farmers should also benefit greatly under the USMCA through provisions which strengthen market access for American producers.
These provisions include the elimination of unfairly low-priced Canadian dairy products and the Canadian grain grading system which discriminates against U.S. wheat.
Additionally, as a representative of one of the largest poultry producing districts in the nation, I fully recognize the importance of USMCA provisions providing U.S. poultry producers access for chicken and egg exports.
Despite these significant improvements, some have withheld support for the final agreement saying it does not go far enough.
Our trade partners are moving forward to implement this new agreement.
However, some would rather reopen the agreement to include measures such as additional provisions on environmental protection and labor practices.
These desires are despite the inclusion of the strongest environmental protections within USMCA of any trade agreement in U.S. history, and the inclusion of a labor chapter in the USMCA that includes the strongest fully enforceable labor obligations of any U.S. trade agreement.
This isn’t, and shouldn’t be, about politics.
This is about working to secure and promote American prosperity for the next generation. I think NAFTA needs to be changed.
So, I support this new agreement, believing it will have a positive impact on U.S. trade, both with USMCA partners and with the rest of the world.
It is time for Congress to act on these interests without delay.