This week, Gov. Doug Ducey and U.S. Rep. Greg Stanton, along with trade expert Luis Ramirez, hosted a tele-town hall, which allowed Arizonans to call-in and ask questions.
The call centered around a discussion about the importance of the United States-Mexico-Canada-Agreement (USMCA) as a vote potentially nears. Throughout the conference call, Ducey and Stanton encouraged Arizona citizens to contact their local congressional representatives and implore them to pass the agreement.
More than 2,400 Arizonans joined the call on Wednesday night, revealing the widespread interest in the subject.
“As a mayor, of course I got some of my best ideas by listening directly to the public, and occasionally – and I know people don’t think this – occasionally, we actually change our mind because we have meetings with the community and the public and they have a better idea than we may have going into that meeting. Reaching out to elected officials on a variety of issues is really important,” Stanton said.
Ducey encouraged all listeners – and anyone else interested in the topic – to access the USMCA’s newly launched website, which includes answers to common questions about the agreement as well as a toolkit for legislative engagement.
“If you care about business in Mexico, you’ll be a yes on the USMCA. If you care about business in Arizona, you’ll be a yes on the USMCA…We do need congress to act; with everyone’s help, I know we can get this done.” Ducey said.
Many members of Congress have endorsed the USMCA, but others must still be swayed; and that, Stanton highlighted, is up to the voters.
“If you have followed trade agreements in the United States Congress for a long time, these are normally knock-down, drag out affairs,” Stanton said. “We have had some real tough negotiations. The truth is, on this one, we’re really close — that’s the good news in the current situation, that I think the Democrats and the House want to get to ‘yes’ and are working very hard to get to “yes”…. I believe that these conversations are happening very quickly, and I believe we should get a vote on this USMCA before Congress before the end of the year.”
Luis Ramirez highlighted the importance of trade between Mexico and the United States. Mexico is currently the United States’ biggest trade partner, and the entirety of these trade negotiations creates more than 230,000 jobs annually. Without the USMCA, many of these jobs would vanish.
The tele-town hall also drew callers like Jeff, a small-business owner in Mesa, who was eager to learn more about the USMCA’s implications for his company. The agreement, the call hosts explained, is not just crucial for large corporations, it’s equally important for small businesses who export and import products from Mexico and Canada.
Stanton also brought up the importance of agriculture and the USMCA’s underlying effects on the industry. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, domestic imports from Mexico totaled $24.6 billion in 2017, accounting for roughly one-fifth of all U.S. agricultural imports.
“We need rural Arizona to be successful for urban Arizona to be successful,” Stanton said. “Our congressional delegation — all nine of us — are on team Arizona when it comes to that.”
In his concluding remarks, Luis Ramirez addressed any reluctance local and national citizens may have about the agreement.
“My final thoughts are this: there are some people who may be concerned or afraid because the UMSCA is new,” Ramirez said. “But I travel the border extensively – I literally drove in from Yuma in San Luis this morning – and I am confident that the state is ready. The state is ready for increased trade, increased investment, increased tourism. Our infrastructure is state of the art, and under our leadership, we have implemented a number of programs that set Arizona apart as not only a border state, but as the border state.”