Arizona business leaders and elected officials are cheering Tuesday’s announcement that the Trump administration has reached a deal with Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi that paves the way for Congress to vote to formally adopt the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, a new tri-national trade deal to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement.
“America’s great USMCA Trade Bill is looking good,” President Donald Trump tweeted Tuesday. “It will be the best and most important trade deal ever made by the USA. Good for everybody – Farmers, Manufacturers, Energy, Unions – tremendous support.”
In a later tweet, Trump said it looked like the USMCA had “very good Democratic support.”
“There is no question of course that this trade agreement is much better than NAFTA,” Pelosi said during the announcement, according to The Associated Press.
Democrats have withheld support for finalizing the USMCA until specific changes were added, including protections for workers and a provision that would prevent high prescription drug prices.
Pelosi tweeted Tuesday that the most current version of the USMCA is “infinitely better” than the original version of the agreement, and she told The Washington Post the agreement is a victory for the American worker.
U.S. Rep. David Schweikert, R-Ariz., a member of the House Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee and the USMCA Republican Whip Team, released a statement praising the decision to move forward with the new agreement.
“We have been working for over a year to move the modernized trade agreement across the finish line,” he said. “While bipartisanship support for this agreement has been in place for many months, I am pleased to see Speaker Pelosi will finally allow this job creating agreement to come to the House floor for a vote.”
Representatives from the state have encouraged the House to take up the legislation, which both Democrats and Republicans believe will create jobs in trade and agriculture while allowing closer collaboration between the three neighboring countries.
“Simply put, trade with our North American allies is essential to Arizona’s economy,” said U.S. Rep. Greg Stanton, D-Ariz., during an impassioned speech on the House floor in November.
U.S. Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-Ariz., expressed relief Tuesday that Pelosi agreed to move ahead with the USMCA.
“President Trump negotiated and signed the USMCA over a year ago,” she said. “I am pleased to see Speaker Pelosi finally decided to bring forward this important trade deal that is a victory for Arizona and the United States.”
Lesko said she has supported USMCA publicly since before being elected, and that it is “unfortunate” Democratic leadership has not made the trade deal a priority. She said the agreement will create an estimated 176,000 new jobs.
“Every day we delay this vote only costs us more American jobs, the ability to sell American products in neighboring countries and a stronger economy,” Schweikert said.
Mexico is Arizona’s largest trading partner, while Canada is Arizona’s largest source of foreign direct investment.
According to Schweikert, the USMCA will ensure support for U.S. manufacturers, protect the environment at the border and create new jobs.
“This trade agreement is a win for all Americans, and I look forward to seeing this be implemented for all industries who have long looked to further their success in our booming economy,” Schweikert said.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce released a statement Tuesday from CEO Thomas Donohue, who said the Chamber welcomes the news that the Trump administration and House Democrats had agreed on a path forward for USMCA.
“We thank U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal, and members of the House Democrats’ Working Group for their leadership and hard work,” Donohue said. “We are optimistic this development will open the door to final approval of USMCA on a bipartisan basis by the end of the year, which will especially benefit American farmers, manufacturers, and small businesses. We look forward to reviewing the details of the deal with our members and assessing their impact.”
The Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry has been one of the USMCA’s most vocal supporters among the Arizona business community, stating that the new agreement modernizes several elements of the existing tri-national agreement, NAFTA.
Arizona Chamber President and CEO Glenn Hamer has spoken with Lighthizer, the U.S. trade representative, and has made several high-level visits to Mexico to meet with leaders from the nation’s executive and legislative branches to help negotiate an effective agreement.
“Ambassador Lighthizer, Mexican Deputy Foreign Minister Jesus Seade and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi deserve a lot of credit for working diligently over the last several weeks to iron out the last remaining details on the best trade agreement the U.S. has ever negotiated,” Hamer said. “Once the USMCA is implemented, no state is as well positioned for economic growth like Arizona. The Arizona Chamber is proud to have played such a positive role on behalf of Arizona’s job creators in seeing this agreement through to this historic day.”