Ham(m)er Time! – Why Arizona’s business leaders and Gov. Ducey say it’s time for #USMCAnow!

Earlier this year, more than 600 business groups from across the country signed on to a letter led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce calling for the passage of United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the next-generation trade agreement that will ensure the continued competitiveness of the North American region. Both of our organizations enthusiastically signed on to that letter and encouraged fellow business group leaders to do the same.

A similar letter was just sent to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi by the Arizona District Export Council whose signers include urban and rural chambers, economic developers, industry associations, and universities. The letter contains a powerful account of the importance of trade to Arizona and a reminder of how USMCA can steady the U.S. trade environment in light of recent disruptions with China. We signed that letter, too.

In fact, we’re happy to join any effort that amplifies our work over the past year to ensure that USMCA passes Congress with a wide, bipartisan vote. We’ll sign on to letters, host tele-town halls, hold meetings—you name it. We’ll do whatever it takes to send a message loud and clear to our delegation and to the rest of Capitol Hill that passage of USMCA is a must-have action item before 2019 comes to a close.

That’s why we were in Washington, D.C. recently for the gathering of the U.S. Chamber’s Committee of 100, which assembles the leaders of the nation’s top state and metro chambers of commerce for high-level discussions on the country’s most pressing issues. Last week’s edition focused heavily on trade and USMCA.

On hand to brief our committee was United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Arizona Governor Doug Ducey. No governor has been more outspoken about the need to pass USMCA than Gov. Ducey.

When it came to deciding whether to inject his voice into the debate, he didn’t take much convincing. After all, more than 200,000 Arizona jobs depend on trade with Canada and Mexico. Gov. Ducey and his counterpart Gov. Claudia Pavlovich of Sonora maintain the best binational relationship of any two state executives, and he’s presided over the establishment of a reinvigorated state trade office presence in Mexico during his tenure.

In his remarks before the conference audience and the media, Gov. Ducey made a strong case for the swift adoption of the new agreement. “To say it frankly, America and Arizona’s businesses are beyond ready to ratify the USMCA,” the governor said. “Trade with Mexico and Canada is vital to Arizona’s economy and it supports more than 228,000 jobs.”

The governor is so committed to USMCA’s adoption that he recently launched USMCAnow.org, a website that contains granular district-by-district information about how each area of Arizona is positively affected by trade with Canada and Mexico, along with social media tools and ways for Arizonans to contact their elected officials.

And make no mistake: USMCA isn’t just good news for border states like Arizona. We’ve been encouraged that our chamber of commerce colleagues from across the country—from the coasts to the heartland—share our sense of urgency to get a deal done. Every state wins under USMCA. Preserving the free-trade structure that has defined the North American trinational relationship for the past quarter-century is essential for manufacturers, farmers and ranchers, and the American consumer.

The ball is in Speaker Pelosi’s court. It will be her call as to when and whether to call a vote. There are concerns within her caucus over a handful of issues like enforcement and labor provisions, but as confirmed by Ambassador Lighthizer, these are all bridgeable gaps. The speaker says that she’s hopeful “we’re on a path to yes,” and Ambassador Lighthizer has been engaged in nearly round-the-clock the discussions with her office and her caucus to finalize a deal.

Arizona job creators can help that process. Visit USMCAnow.org today and lend your support to the passage of a 21st century trade agreement that will solidify North America’s position as the globe’s most competitive region and Arizona’s as one of the country’s best places to do business.

Glenn Hamer is president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Todd Sanders is president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Chamber.

Glenn Hamer

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