U.S. Chamber, industry leaders make case to ratify USMCA

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce held a press conference yesterday to urge Congress to ratify the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement swiftly. Representatives from the retail, food, automotive and agriculture industries joined the chamber in stating the importance of the USMCA.

Recently, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce spearheaded a coalition letter to Congress signed by more than 600 businesses and organizations across the nation.

“Do you know how hard it was to get 600 organizations to sign on?” Tom Donahue, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, asked during the press conference. “Very easy. It was done very quickly. We could keep adding to it but we felt that this was fairly representative. That’s because the support for the USMCA across the business community is wide and deep and the coalition that was assembled here today is the case in point.”

According to the letter, 12 million jobs in the United States rely on trade with Canada and Mexico. Manufacturers export more goods to the two countries than they do with the next 11 largest export markets combined.

In a recent report by the Arizona Chamber Foundation and the Arizona-Mexico Commission, between 2015-2017 Arizona exported $10.5 billion annually to Canada and Mexico, and more than 228,000 jobs in Arizona are dependent on the annual trade and investment relationship with our border neighbors. In that same time frame, Arizona ports of entry (POEs) processed an average of 400,000 northbound trucks coming in from Mexico and nearly $28 billion in trade.

“From avocado to asparagus to auto parts to blue jeans to discretionary spending, retailers and the 42 million Americans that they employ rely on the certainty of our relationship with our most important trade partners in Canada and Mexico to make that commerce happen and to make it happen effectively,” president and CEO of the National Retail Federation Matthew Shay said.

Trade is a key component for job growth in any industry. President and CEO of the Corn Refiners Association John Bode emphasized that the food and agriculture industry feeds the economy by providing nearly 20 percent of America’s economic activity.

“Roughly under NAFTA, U.S. agricultural exports to Canada and Mexico have quadrupled. While exports of agricultural commodities are important, that is just part of the story. NAFTA also grew value [to] agricultural exports which is why 1 in 4 American manufacturing jobs is agriculturally-related. The need for USMCA has unified American food and agriculture,” Bode said.

For many Americans, it’s hard to see how a trade agreement can impact their daily lives, CEO of the Food Marketing Institute Leslie Sarasin said. However, she stated that the effects are felt and seen in reliable food supply.

“The USMCA takes a very good trade agreement and makes it better by bringing it into the 21st century,” Sarasin said. “It maintains and secures its existing supply chains resulting in continued growth in U.S. food and beverage exports and most importantly it strengthens our food safety efforts.”

The agreement contains labor provisions, which Matt Blunt, former governor of Missouri and president of the American Automotive Policy Council, said are the cream of the crop when it comes to trade deals.

“The provisions of the automobiles being built to the U.S. safety standards and provisions related to currency are some of the best of any U.S. trade agreement,” Blunt said. “We export more cars and parts from the United States than any other country and we have no more important trading partners than Canada and Mexico.”

Donahue stressed that this agreement is supported by businesses across the board and must be passed in order to keep the economy afloat.

“Here’s the bottom line – you can’t be pro-business and anti-USMCA. You can’t be pro-jobs and anti-USMCA. Remember what’s at stake, trade with Canada and Mexico supports 12 million U.S. jobs are at risk if we fail to act,” he said.

Photo by Martin Falbisoner via Wikimedia Commons

Morgan Carr

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