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USMCA paves the way for bold new trade agreements

The pandemic and the war in Ukraine have brought into sharp focus problems associated with global trade.

To say that the past year has been unlike any other in modern American history is an understatement.

Due to an unprecedented global pandemic and lockdown measures, we shuttered our economy right as it was setting record highs. This renewed prosperity was fueled in part by deregulation, a newly redesigned and competitive tax system, record low unemployment and a landmark new trade deal between the United States, Mexico and Canada (USMCA).

This week marks the one-year anniversary of USMCA’s entry into force and the first, but very important, step in finally modernizing and rebalancing the United States’ critical trading relationship with our North American neighbors.

USMCA is a 21st century, high standard trade deal that will benefit American workers, businesses, and our economy.

Importantly, trade between the United States, Mexico and Canada supports nearly $1.3 trillion in economic activity and more than 12 million American jobs. And in my home state of Florida, we export more than $12 billion worth of goods and services to Canada and Mexico annually, supporting over 700,000 jobs.

While the full story of USMCA’s successes has yet to be told, this historic trade agreement is expected to boost employment by creating thousands of new jobs for hard working Americans and adding tens of billions of dollars in new economic activity. That’s good news for American manufacturers, farmers, and ranchers.

USMCA modernizes our trading relationship with our closest trading partners in a smart, effective, and seamless way. That includes areas like agriculture, customs and trade facilitation services and digital trade where USMCA sets the gold standard for our trade agreements.

This agreement also contains groundbreaking new labor standards that require Mexico to improve worker conditions that have allowed Mexican factories to out-compete American manufacturers. USMCA reverses that trend by helping American businesses and workers compete on a level playing field.

As a businessman for over 30 years before I came to Congress, I know that a contract is only as good as the parties involved. That’s why strong enforcement mechanisms, which allow countries to hold each other accountable, are essential in our trade agreements. NAFTA’s dispute settlement system was broken and essentially optional. USMCA now ensures that these obligations will be subject to a meaningful dispute settlement system.

With millions of Americans still unemployed and our economy slowly starting to recover from the pandemic, we need to focus on policies that will help workers and small businesses get back on their feet.

The promotion of free and fair trade and increasing America’s access to foreign markets is one of the most effective things Congress can do to grow the U.S economy and create good paying jobs.

With ninety-five percent of the world’s consumers outside the United States, we must look beyond our borders to expand and sell more of our goods and services.

If we don’t, America will lose influence abroad while also losing jobs here at home. Worse, countries that don’t share our values — like China — will step in and fill that void.

In order to build on the success of USMCA with other new and ambitions free trade agreements, we need to pass the next iteration of Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation. TPA provides for an open and transparent process that helps protect American jobs and companies while paving the way for bold new trade agreements.

Also known as “fast-track” authority, TPA allows for expedited consideration of trade agreements — provided that certain congressionally-dictated safeguards are met. TPA offers the ability to obtain an up-or-down vote on a trade agreement, which is critical to ensure that the U.S. maintains leverage in complex negotiations.

Regrettably, this week also marks the expiration of Trade Promotion Authority — last passed by Congress in 2015. That is why I’m calling on Congress and the Biden administration to come to the negotiating table and renew this critically important legislation.

Bipartisan trade agreements could serve as an excellent example of what Washington can accomplish when both parties come together to help create jobs and increase America’s competitiveness in the global marketplace.

As a senior member of the Ways and Means Committee and an entrepreneur who spent three decades building businesses, I know from experience the value that free trade has on the American economy.

Now let’s get to work.

Rep. Vern Buchanan represents Florida’s 16th District and is the co-chairman of the bipartisan Florida delegation. He is the lead Republican on the Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee, a key panel that oversees tariffs, customs, bilateral and regional trade agreements and international trade rules and organizations.

Tags fast-track authority trade promotion authority USMCA Vern Buchanan

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