In the News
OP-ED: It's time to vote on U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement
Washington, DC, July 10, 2019 | By: Rep. Jim Baird
Op-ed: Blocking the USMCA trade deal with Mexico and Canada is hurting Indiana and the U.S.
Last November, the United States, Mexico and Canada joined in a new agreement, the United-States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), effectively bringing North American trade into the 21st century. Now it’s up to Congress to implement legislation so it can go into effect.
As House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democrats stand in the way of bringing USMCA to the House floor, our economy suffers; each day that goes by without a vote, our manufacturers and producers are hurt, and growth is inhibited in every sector of our nation.
When the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) went into effect in 1994, it was the world’s largest and most successful free trade agreement that more than tripled trade in North America over the next two decades. Millions of jobs were created, and barriers were removed on agricultural products traded between the U.S. and Mexico and most products traded between the U.S. and Canada.
However, as our world became increasingly complex, standards changed without any provisions to accommodate the new demands. In order to compete globally today, we must have all partners playing by the same rules.
USMCA strengthens our partnerships and improves aspects of trade with our neighbors so we can remain competitive and lead the world.
In 2017 alone, Indiana exported over $18.2 billion worth of goods to Canada and Mexico, and more than 233,600 workers depended on trade in North America. Our producers rely on strong agreements to keep American-made products moving with our partners, and Hoosiers know that increased job opportunity leads to economic growth and stability.
We can boast as one of the top agricultural producing states in the country, with an estimated $31.2 billion contributed to our economy annually and nearly 56,800 family-owned and operated farms. Agricultural exports support over 38,600 Hoosier jobs with an annual value totaling $4.6 billion, and it will only be enriched by USMCA.
The new agreement also supports farmers by reducing barriers that are currently present under NAFTA, including eliminating tariffs on dairy and poultry exports to Canada. It opens up the Canadian market to dairy, wheat, chicken and egg products, which means our Hoosier poultry producers will have new access for chicken and egg exports, along with expanded access for turkey exports.
As one of our top industries, Indiana’s manufactured goods exports to Canada and Mexico totaled nearly $18 billion in 2018 with almost 62,000 jobs tied to trade across North America. However, without secured tariff-free trade, these exports could face a minimum of $514 million to $2.4 billion in additional taxes. This industry is crucial for our state’s economy and the consequences of not implementing USMCA are staggering.
The new agreement also restores the integrity of American innovation by providing greater security for our ideas and intellectual property. In 1994, the internet was still in its earliest stages, which meant goods were traded physically or by investment, and very little was stored on the web.
Today’s digital landscape looks exceptionally different. Under USMCA, additional cybersecurity and IP safeguards will be put in place, allowing for effective protection of IP rights that are critical to innovation and supporting American jobs.
We must take every opportunity we are given to continue building on the success and confidence that is touching all aspects of our economy from agriculture to manufacturing to Main Street. The Trump administration and United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer have done a remarkable job on behalf of our nation to negotiate this agreement that will move us forward on the world stage.
But as Congress sits idly by, we lose valuable jobs, stability, and opportunity. To ensure that future generations continue reaping the benefits of our economic success, we must act now to kick start a new era of stronger, modernized trade.
USMCA is a win for our nation and for Hoosiers.
The time to vote is now.
U.S. Rep. Jim Baird, R-Greencastle, represents Indiana’s 4th District, including Tippecanoe County and surrounding counties, and is a member of the House Committee on Agriculture.
Click here to view the op-ed online.