Business CEOs throw support behind new NAFTA deal

Business CEOs throw support behind new NAFTA deal
© Greg Nash

An association of CEOs from major U.S. corporations officially endorsed the new U.S. trade agreement with Mexico and Canada on Wednesday and urged Congress to swiftly pass legislation to implement it.

Business Roundtable CEO Josh Bolten told reporters that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) "has been a huge positive for the U.S. economy and this agreement improves on that."

"It should not be underestimated, the importance of getting this modernized agreement into place and removing the doubt of North American trade,” Bolten added.

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Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiNJ governor calls for assessment of coronavirus response after crisis abates Overnight Health Care: Global coronavirus cases top 1M | Cities across country in danger of becoming new hotspots | Trump to recommend certain Americans wear masks | Record 6.6M file jobless claims Hillicon Valley: Zoom draws new scrutiny amid virus fallout | Dems step up push for mail-in voting | Google to lift ban on political ads referencing coronavirus MORE (D-Calif.) announced Tuesday that she and President TrumpDonald John TrumpMilitary personnel to handle coronavirus patients at facilities in NYC, New Orleans and Dallas Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort has total of 20 patients: report Fauci says that all states should have stay-at-home orders MORE had reached a deal on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), a revised version of NAFTA.

“While no trade agreement is perfect, USMCA in its totality preserves and strengthens North American trade,” Bolten said.

“It’s a sign of the times, and not a bad one,” Bolten said about labor and environment provisions in the trade agreement that have been a priority for House Democrats.

He added that while the Business Roundtable likes “most of the model,” the pact removes or weakens important intellectual property protections.

After negotiations between House Democrats and the Trump administration, “those protections, particularly for biologics, have been eroded,” Bolten said.

Jamie Dimon, the group's chairman who is also CEO of JPMorgan Chase, said USMCA is “far better than no trade agreement.”

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocrats press Trump, GOP for funding for mail-in ballots Top GOP lawmakers push back on need for special oversight committee for coronavirus aid Stocks move little after record-breaking unemployment claims MORE (R-Ky.) said Tuesday that the Senate won’t move on USMCA this year and not until after the impeachment trial. The House has yet to vote on the implementing language.

“We are strong supporters of robust congressional input,” Bolten said while emphasizing the importance of getting the legislation passed quickly.

Lance Fritz, the CEO of Union Pacific, also expressed support for swift passage.

“I’m very encouraged that we got to this point. Looking forward to getting it passed,” he told reporters Wednesday.