When President Trump took office, he promised an equal playing field for American producers. A key priority was to renegotiate NAFTA, a job-killing trade deal between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada. NAFTA left much to be desired in terms of market access and support for American manufacturers. In late 2018, Trump delivered on this promise by concluding negotiations on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). USMCA will add thousands of jobs and billions to our booming economy. Mexico has ratified the deal, but thus far the U.S. and Canada have not.
Speaker Pelosi insists she is not intentionally stalling its ratification, citing concerns over labor protections in Mexico as the largest stumbling block. But USMCA goes far beyond what Democrats have demanded in the past. The president negotiated higher wages for Mexican workers, recognizing this as a bipartisan win-win: Democrats get labor protections and Republicans get more competitive U.S. manufacturing. If labor becomes more expensive in Mexico, manufacturing in the U.S. becomes more attractive.
The problem with Canadian trade relations is protectionism, otherwise known as sky-high tariffs charged on foreign products. When Canadian grocery stores import American agricultural products, they pay tariffs, or taxes, of 168 percent on eggs, 270 percent on milk, and 298 percent on cheese. This means the moment American products cross the border, their prices more than triple, making them far less attractive to Canadian consumers. The president convinced Canada to abolish the top two milk price controls. This change represents a monumental shift in Canadian dairy policy and a huge win for the administration.
Ten months later Congress still hasn’t taken the first step toward ratification. My colleagues on the other side of the aisle have done everything in their power to deprive the president a victory on renegotiating NAFTA. Members of Speaker Pelosi’s own party have recognized the value of USMCA and encouraged her to allow a vote.
Last year, the U.S. exported $40 billion in agricultural products to Canada and Mexico. $7.2 billion came from Texas alone. Increasing trade has always enjoyed bipartisan support, with some of our most significant trade deals signed by both Republican and Democratic administrations. We are hearing rumors that Congress could take up USMCA in September or October, but it comes down to one person who controls what comes to the House floor. Texas farmers and ranchers have benefited greatly from NAFTA and I look forward to sharing the news that USMCA has been ratified to build on this success.