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Op-ed Placement

Do-Nothing Democrats Need to Work With GOP and Pass USMCA

BY Adam Brandon
12/10/2019
Originally Published in The Washington Examiner by Adam Brandon on 12/9/19.

Much has been made in the media about uncertainty regarding our nation’s trade policy. Stories of those harmed by the trade tensions between the United States and China, as well as by the tensions between the U.S. and its North American neighbors, permeate the news cycles. Most of this uncertainty is blamed on President Trump’s confrontational negotiating style.

However, when it comes to trade relations between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada, Trump has already delivered a trade agreement. The only person prolonging uncertainty in this case and inflicting unnecessary economic damage is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement has been before Congress for months now with no action. It’s time to move forward.

According to the U.S. International Trade Commission report, the agreement will work to remove non-tariff barriers to international trade. It will harmonize regulatory frameworks across borders to prevent uncertainty in the market. The deal also has built-in deterrents to prevent the erection of future barriers to free trade between these three nations.

There is also another good to this agreement. The president has openly mused about the possibility of withdrawing the U.S. from NAFTA. If the U.S. pulls out of NAFTA without a new deal in place, that would be disastrous for our economy. The USMCA provides much-needed stability for businesses and consumers across the continent. Any further delay to the USMCA’s passage increases the likelihood of an economic decline.

The agreement loosens longstanding restrictions on the free flow of agricultural commodities between these nations. Canada has historically had strong protectionist measures on dairy products. Likewise, the U.S. has some of the toughest restrictions on sugar imports in the entire globe. As a result of the USMCA, Canada agreed to an increase in the amount of dairy that can enter duty-free, and the U.S. reciprocated with a similar measure regarding sugar. This will be a big win for dairy farmers and consumers across the country.

The USMCA alone is projected to raise real U.S. GDP by $68.2 billion and add over 176,000 jobs to our economy. This would energize our economy, particularly in light of a stellar November jobs report. The passage of the USMCA, combined with the pro-growth policies already implemented by the administration, would give our economy the chance to grow at rates not thought possible at this period in time.

There is also no partisan reason for Pelosi to continue to hamper this deal. Moderate Democrats in battleground districts have publicly urged the speaker to move forward with a vote on the package. This trade deal is not a partisan achievement but an American one, and it will benefit citizens in blue, purple, and red districts across the country.

On top of the benefits the deal offers to the U.S., it will also be a boost for the Canadian and Mexican economies. According to the U.S. International Trade Commission, U.S. exports to Canada and Mexico would increase by $19.1 billion (5.9%) and $14.2 billion (6.7%), respectively. Also, U.S. imports from Canada and Mexico would increase by $19.1 billion (4.8%) and $12.4 billion (3.8%), respectively. This is a reasonable deal that will have benefits across the continent.

This means the deal will also help accomplish one of Trump’s other top priorities of securing the border. Improvements in the Mexican economy will decrease their jobless rates, and fewer desperate workers looking for jobs will be driven north to the U.S.-Mexico border. Instead, they will have a better economy to look forward to at home in Mexico, where they can make a stable living and provide for their family.

Of course, the USMCA is not without its flaws. These flaws should have been addressed in the months that the agreement has been before Congress. Now, the time is growing short, and Pelosi wants to start intense negotiations now. Everyone who cares about our economy should be in favor of crafting a better deal for the people. However, these negotiations should not be used as a stall tactic to further delay what will be a signature accomplishment for this administration. It is well past time to bring this agreement to the floor of both chambers of Congress for a vote.