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Congressman Tom Cole

Representing the 4th District of Oklahoma

Time to Advance USMCA

August 14, 2019
Weekly Columns

The economic success that America has experienced lately is truly historic. Even with unemployment as low as 3.7 percent, Congress has an opportunity to further improve the nation’s economy and create more jobs by advancing the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which would replace the outdated North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). USMCA already has bipartisan support, and if it were brought to the floor in the U.S. House of Representatives, I think it would easily pass.

Mexico has already formally ratified the agreement and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has signaled that Canada is ready to do the same. While leaders in the Republican-led Senate are eager to pass USMCA, agreements pertaining to revenue are constitutionally required to originate in the House. Each day that House Democratic leadership keeps this important trade deal from a vote represents another day that American manufacturers, farmers and ranchers miss out on its benefits.

The United States trades with our two North American neighbors more than any other countries in the world. In fact, Canada and Mexico purchase more American goods than our next 10 largest trading partners altogether. And according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, Canada and Mexico purchase over two-fifths of all the exported goods made in Oklahoma.

Trade with Mexico and Canada already supports 12 million jobs in America, including 10,400 jobs in Oklahoma. Jobs would grow and so would the economy under USMCA. Earlier this year, analysis by the U.S. International Trade Commission found that ratification of USMCA would create at least 176,000 jobs nationwide and grow the economy by an estimated $68 billion.

Indeed, a free and fair agreement is critically important between countries that engage in commerce as much as the United States, Mexico and Canada. USMCA delivers an agreement that would create more American jobs, modernize trade in the digital age and foster innovation. USMCA considers the massive role that the Internet plays as a sales platform by providing a modern digital trade chapter. The agreement also requires robust intellectual property protections – strengthening patents, copyrights, trademarks and trade secrets. These requirements allow entrepreneurs to confidently create and trade their products freely without fear of foul play.

USMCA also includes a section specifically with small and medium-sized businesses in mind. This includes provisions to help smaller business save time and money in the customs and shipping process. Moreover, the trade agreement requires more transparent regulatory procedures, helping small businesses that may not have the resources to hire a large legal team.

There’s no reason for further delay on USMCA. Frankly, the deal negotiated by the Trump Administration on America’s behalf should have been ratified by Congress long ago. Unfortunately, as long as Democratic inaction in the House continues, American entrepreneurs, farmers and ranchers will unnecessarily miss out on the benefits USMCA has to offer. When lawmakers return for legislative work in September, I hope that Democratic leaders will finally choose to schedule this commonsense trade agreement for a House vote.

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