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 PelosiTrump signs bill averting shutdown after brief funding lapse On The Money: 'One more serious try' on COVID relief yields progress but no deal | Trump tax bombshell shines light on IRS enforcement | Senate passes bill to avert shutdown hours before deadline 'One more serious try' on COVID-19 relief yields progress but no deal MORE (D-Calif.) announced Tuesday that she and President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump signs bill averting shutdown after brief funding lapse Privacy, civil rights groups demand transparency from Amazon on election data breaches Facebook takes down Trump campaign ads tying refugees to coronavirus 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 McConnellGOP senators pan debate: 'S---show,' 'awful,' 'embarrassment' 'One more serious try' on COVID-19 relief yields progress but no deal The Hill's Campaign Report: Debate fallout l Trump clarifies remarks on Proud Boys l Down to the wire in South Carolina 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.