Senator Portman Op-Ed in Washington Post: Democrats Should Join Republicans in Passing USMCA

September 9, 2019 | Column

In the Washington Post, Senator Portman wrote a new op-ed about his support for the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and why Democrats should join Republicans in passing the trade agreement this fall. As a former U.S. Trade Representative, Portman has been a staunch supporter of the USMCA Portman supports the more modern USMCA to the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in part because it includes new and enforceable environmental and labor standards, a new section on digital trade, expanded opportunities for agricultural trade, and new opportunities for auto jobs in America.

On why Democrats should support USMCA, Portman writes: “Democrats should be leading the charge for its passage, because they have long criticized NAFTA, and because the USMCA addresses the major concerns they have raised with NAFTA. The new USMCA adopts long-held Democratic positions on jobs, labor and environmental standards, as well as other issues.”

Excerpts of the op-ed can be found below and the full op-ed can be found at this link.

USMCA is a Needed Upgrade from NAFTA. Let’s Get it Passed.

By Senator Rob Portman

Washington Post

September 9, 2019

As Congress reconvenes this week, we’ll have a choice to make — stand by an outdated, 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement, or vote to pass the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, a modern trade agreement that will create thousands of new American jobs. Democrats should be leading the charge for its passage, because they have long criticized NAFTA, and because the USMCA addresses the major concerns they have raised with NAFTA. The new USMCA adopts long-held Democratic positions on jobs, labor and environmental standards, as well as other issues.

That’s why, if Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) were to bring USMCA to the House floor for a vote, I am confident it would pass. And I know the Senate would quickly follow suit.

Taken together, Canada and Mexico make up the most important foreign market for U.S. products, fueling economic growth here at home and supporting export jobs that pay, on average, 16 percent more than equivalent jobs that produce only for our domestic market. According to the most recent data, one-third of all American exports in 2019 have gone to Mexico or Canada, well ahead of any other foreign markets. In all, trade with Mexico and Canada supports more than 12 million jobs nationwide.

With so many jobs and livelihoods at stake, our trade relationship with our neighbors must be built on a healthy foundation. It’s been 25 years since we entered into NAFTA, and it must now be updated to reflect our 21st-century economy.

When Democrats say that the USMCA is just like the NAFTA agreement they oppose, they’re ignoring the facts to score political points. According to a study by the independent International Trade Commission, because of these USMCA improvements over NAFTA, wages will rise and we will add 176,000 jobs to the U.S. economy, including more than 20,000 in the auto industry. In fact, it will grow our economy by double the gross domestic product of that projected under the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which many Democrats praised a few years back for its potential economic impact.

Passing the USMCA will help the U.S. compete in today’s 21st-century economy. A vote for the USMCA is a vote for improved market access, more U.S. manufacturing, and a level playing field for American workers and farmers. A vote against the USMCA is a vote for the status quo of unenforceable labor and environmental standards, nonexistent digital economy provisions, and outdated rules of origin provisions that allow more automobiles and auto parts to be manufactured overseas rather than here in America. Put these two agreements side by side and it’s clear: The USMCA is a much-needed upgrade.

Over the next several weeks, Democrats must decide whether they support the NAFTA deal that they’ve long criticized, or the better USMCA pact that is ready to go, having already been signed by all three countries. There will be plenty of time for politics between now and the 2020 election. This fall, let’s work together to put the American people first and pass this agreement.

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