Bradley Blakeman: Trade pact with Canada and Mexico offers incredible benefits – Congress should approve it

Congress should quickly approve the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the updated and improved version of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between our three nations.

Countries that have put tariffs on American products, restricted trade, lied, cheated and stolen from our nation are laughing at our inability to defend ourselves by enacting this fair trade agreement.

Every day that America does not level the trading field we lose jobs, customers and put in peril our present and long-term economic prosperity.

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After years of slow growth and stagnation, the American economy today is robust. Americans are seeing more in their take-home pay. Manufacturing is returning. Jobs that had been moved offshore have come back to America.

To understand just how important trade is with our neighbors to the north and south, you have to appreciate the statistics. Trade with Mexico and Canada supports 12 million U.S. jobs. The Trump administration expects that number will increase to add another 176,000 American jobs when the USMCA is enacted.

Delays in getting needed approval by Congress of the USMCA are further hurting our markets and competition.

Internet industries are stuck with old NAFTA rules that restrict and hamper sales. The USMCA contains modern and up-to-date standards for sales and trade. It also safeguards cross-border data flows and prohibits forced data localization requirements that hamper American competition and control of our data and operations.

Our agricultural sectors are also plagued with antiquated and unfair trade practices and rules under the old NAFTA agreement, which went into effect at the beginning of 1994.

The USMCA will maintain duty-free access for American farmers in Mexico and opens up the Canadian market for the first time to American dairy, wheat, chicken, egg and turkey products.

By approving the USMCA, Congress will enable American farmers and ranchers to expand their operations here and in Canada, and allow them to make investments in personnel, equipment and infrastructure.

The USMCA also will allow for improved health and safety standards that require Mexico and Canada to comply and report on.

The secret to America’s success has been our ability to innovate. The USMCA better protects that by requiring Canada and Mexico to honor our intellectual property and trade secrets.

In addition, the USMCA expedites the patent and approval process in Mexico and Canada, allowing America’s innovative products to be sold in those markets sooner, while protecting them from infringement and theft.

USMCA is the first trade agreement that includes provisions that address the concerns of small and medium-size businesses, which represent 98 percent of our exporters. It also cuts red tape for customs procedures and protocols that have unduly burdened small and medium-size businesses.

America’s greatest asset is our workers. The USMCA includes advanced, comprehensive and enforceable labor obligations that level the playing field and provides opportunity for our workforce.

The agreement also requires Mexico to pass laws overhauling its labor justice system to protect its workers, which in turn creates fairer competition in trade.

On top of this, the agreement will raise the standard of living for American workers by requiring 40 to 45 percent of automobile content to be made by workers earning at least $16 an hour.

The USMCA will help American manufacturers by maintaining the successful duty-free access of U.S. manufactured goods into Canada and Mexico.

Today, 46 out of 50 states count Mexico and Canada as their first and second-largest foreign purchasers. The USCMA will ensure this trade continues and grows.

U.S. exports of manufactured goods to Canada and Mexico support more than 2 million jobs at 43,000 manufacturing businesses across our country.

Canada and Mexico are the largest purchasers of American manufactured goods – purchasing more than the next 10 U.S. trading partners combined.

America’s premier industry is automobile-related. We need to pass the USMCA to protect it from abuses and unfair trade practices.

The United States Trade Representative estimates that the USMCA will add $34 billion in automotive investment and will create 76,000 new American jobs over 5 years – figures that come from the automobile-related companies themselves.

The USMCA will encourage investment and manufacturing growth in the U.S. by establishing higher content requirements for U.S. components. The agreement also transforms supply chains to use more U.S. content to encourage suppliers to locate future production in the U.S.

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Every day that the USMCA goes unsigned, America loses. Friends, adversaries and enemies are looking at the USMCA as a barometer as to how to treat us and what they can get away with.

Now is the time to act. NAFTA is outdated, ineffective and hurtful to our economy and our workers. Letting the USMCA languish is a gross dereliction of duty by Congress.

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