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House passes USMCA: Deal would replace NAFTA

Photo Credit: W. Scott McGill/Adobe Stock

The U.S. House voted Thursday to pass the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) Implementation Act.

The trilateral trade deal is touted as being something that could strengthen export markets and level the playing field for businesses, farms, and workers.

The deal would replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Earlier this month, a deal was announced between House negotiators and the administration on changes to the agreement.

“The passage of USMCA is a huge win for Virginians,” Congresswoman Elaine Luria, D-Va., said. “By modernizing NAFTA, we are securing better jobs and wages and restoring confidence in the United States’ trade relationship with our North American allies. This bipartisan agreement proves that when Republicans and Democrats come together, we can deliver for U.S. businesses, consumers, and workers alike.”

“There’s no doubt that Central Virginia’s economy depends on trade—and today’s vote to pass the USMCA legislation in the House is a vote on the side of our district’s economic security. Whether in discussions with cattlemen in Louisa or small business owners in Chesterfield, I’ve heard firsthand from those I represent about the much-needed benefits of the USMCA,” Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., said.

“I’ve long called for implementing legislation to come to the floor of the House, and I’m calling on the Senate to take action now to strengthen our markets, secure fair labor and environmental standards, and put our businesses on equal footing with their competitors. Our businesses and farms have waited long enough for this improved agreement—and they’re expecting us to deliver an enacted USMCA,” Spanberger said.

“I was proud to finally cast my vote today to advance the USMCA,” Congressman Rob Wittman, R-Va., said. “Ratifying this agreement is absolutely critical to the First District and entire Commonwealth; over 13,000 jobs in Virginia depend on manufacturing exports to Canada and Mexico. Accounting for nearly a quarter of all exports from Virginia, trade with our northern and southern partners is necessary for continued job creation and growth here at home.

“By increasing duty-free access of the world-class agricultural products we create in the Commonwealth and improving outdated policies, the USMCA improves the financial position of all Virginians,” Wittman said.

Last year, Virginia exported $4.3 billion  worth of goods to Canada and Mexico. According to the National Association of Manufacturers, one out of six Virginia manufacturing firms exports to Canada and Mexico. For these manufacturers, the USMCA would raise standards, improve transparency, and end anti-U.S. discrimination from Canada and Mexico—as well as prevent a $466 million increase in taxes due to tariffs.

The USMCA would also establish preferential market access for agricultural exporters. For dairy farmers, the trade agreement would expand market opportunities in Canada, and it would eliminate an unfair milk pricing program that long allowed Canadian farmers to undersell U.S. producers.

And for poultry producers, the USMCA would increase access to Canadian markets for chicken and eggs. According to a report from the U.S. International Trade Commission, U.S. agricultural exports to Mexico would grow by nearly 7 percent—and exports to Canada would grow by nearly 6 percent.

“Today’s vote on the USMCA is an important step toward ensuring duty-free market access across most of North America for Virginia consumers, businesses, manufacturers, and farmers,” said Barry DuVal, president and CEO of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce. “This historic trade agreement will drive export growth, boost our small businesses in Virginia, and provide much-needed reforms for e-commerce, customs procedures, and financial services.”

“Virginia Farm Bureau was proud to see USMCA ratified by the House. USMCA builds on the success of NAFTA while modernizing and updating that agreement with important provisions that support U.S. agriculture, and drive American innovation and competitiveness,” said Ben Rowe, National Affairs Coordinator, Virginia Farm Bureau. “At a time when American farmers are facing low commodity prices, natural disasters, and overseas trade wars, the USMCA provides trade certainty and shows bipartisan support for the agriculture industry.”

augusta free press
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