Approving the USMCA must be at the top of Congress's fall check list

What do American workers and businesses need to be successful today? More jobs, higher paychecks, new opportunities in their communities, and access to the global market. If approved by Congress, the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement — known as the USMCA — will deliver all of this for our country.

The USMCA is a free trade agreement with our neighbors in Canada and Mexico that will bring wages, worker protections, and supply chains into the 21st century. This new agreement updates the 25 year-old North American Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA, to make it work for today’s economy.

According to a study by the U.S. International Trade Commission, the USMCA will generate new opportunities for American workers and their families by creating 176,000 jobs across the United States and growing the economy by $68 billion. These gains are across the country and across all industries, improving the well-being of countless Americans.


America’s farmers and ranchers — from dairy producers to tomato and almond growers — will be able to sell more of their products to Canada and Mexico. American autoworkers, manufacturers, and all of the small businesses along their supply chains will have the tools to increase production in the United States instead of shipping jobs and factories to Mexico. Our energy and technology industries will also be more competitive because of the USMCA.

So what exactly does the USMCA do to spur these new opportunities?

While U.S. manufacturers feel like NAFTA left them behind, the USMCA will help put U.S. manufacturing back on top. The USMCA establishes requirements that promote American-made cars and machinery as well as new worker protections to ensure American factory jobs do not get shipped overseas. The USMCA also provides incentives for companies to innovate and invest in their U.S. workers and businesses, rather than sending jobs and research to Canada or Mexico.

After years of unfair treatment, the USMCA expands access into the Canadian and Mexican markets for American dairy, poultry, and eggs — an expected export boost of more than $314 million for American agriculture. No longer will American products lose out to our competition in these key markets. Instead, American agriculture is poised to compete and win in North America and around the world. This 21st century trade agreement also promotes innovation in the agriculture industry by including new rules to support innovative biotechnology, critical for an industry that is always looking to lower its cost of production.

The USMCA does not forget our small businesses either. This trade deal will bring small businesses increased prosperity, empower them to grow their operations and hire more workers. By establishing 21st century rules for doing business online, small businesses will have greater access to customers in Canada and Mexico and will face fewer barriers to participating fully in the global economy.


Most importantly, the USMCA puts American workers first — especially the more than 12 million folks whose jobs rely on trade with Canada and Mexico. The USMCA contains the most modern and comprehensive wage and labor protections of any U.S. trade agreement to ensure American jobs stay here in our communities. The new labor provisions are some of the strongest the U.S. has in any trade agreement, and the provisions are fully enforceable.

Whether it is the almond grower in California, the dairy farmer in Wisconsin, the autoworker in Michigan, the small business owners in North Dakota, or the oil and gas producers in New Mexico, the USMCA will improve the lives of hardworking Americans and their families.

It has been almost one year since the U.S., Canada, and Mexico agreed to the USMCA, and it is past time for Congress to approve this deal. The longer Congress delays its approval, the less competitive American workers and businesses will be in the global marketplace. As lawmakers return to D.C., we encourage them to put passing the USMCA at the top of their agenda. Americans cannot wait any longer.

Heitkamp and Cox are national co-chairs of Trade Works for America – a bipartisan coalition working to secure passage of the USMCA. Heitkamp served as a U.S. senator for North Dakota from 2013 to 2019, and Cox is a former executive director of the Republican Governors Association.