When President Trump lifted steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada and Mexico three months ago, passage of the new trade agreement between our three countries became a no brainer. It still is, and that is good news for the people of North Texas.
Trade is a critical component of the American economy, especially in Texas. Not surprisingly, our biggest trading partners are Canada and Mexico. Texas had $120.6 billion in exports to the two countries in 2017, including $22.9 billion to Canada and $97.7 billion to Mexico. That’s half of all Texas exports, which support almost a million jobs.
The 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement benefitted Texas more than any other state. The new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) provides much-needed updates and improvements that will once again benefit Texas, from intellectual property to agricultural products. Some of the highlights include the following:
Includes new rules of origin that will result in more goods and materials manufactured in the U.S.
• New commitments for access to markets, including import and export licensing.
• Modernized intellectual property standards that will help drive innovation and economic growth.
• New customs and trade rules to cut red tape for small businesses.
• Important provisions to secure greater market access for farmers.
• The strongest disciplines for digital trade of any international agreement.
• New enforceable labor standards that will help level the playing field for American workers.
Simply put, USMCA will be a boom to Texas manufacturers. As one might expect, our top exports are petroleum and coal products, but these are quickly followed by chemicals, motor vehicle parts, electrical equipment, semiconductors and electronic components, fabricated metal products, plastics, engines, turbines, power transmission equipment, food, and beverages. All of these will benefit from the agreement.
Equally exciting are the benefits USMCA has for farmers. Biotechnology that supports innovation is included for the first time. Disciplines for human, animal, and plant health are strengthened. U.S. beef producers maintain their access to a $1.8 billion market, dairy farmers will enjoy access to new market opportunities in Canada, and pork producers maintain access to a combined $2.1 billion market. Additionally, U.S. corn producers maintain access to their biggest market in Mexico and a combined market of $3.4 billion. This amounted to 27% of total export sales last year.
Ambassador Robert Lighthizer, the U.S. Trade Representative, has worked tirelessly to forge an agreement that better fits the needs of U.S. exporters in the 21st Century. He has met with the leadership of both parties in Congress and the relevant committees. In recognition of the importance USMCA has for our state, as well as the importance of Texas for passage of USMCA in
Congress, Ambassador Lighthizer met with the Texas delegation to discuss the agreement and answer questions. It is clear that USMCA will be good for Texas and will be good for the counties in the Sixth Congressional District.
USMCA has my support, and I believe, the support of most Texans. I congratulate Ambassador Lighthizer and the President for a job well done. Exactly when the agreement will come to the Floor for a vote is up to the Speaker of the House. It is my hope that it will pass with overwhelming bipartisan support and not be the object of political gamesmanship, the likes of which we have seen too often this Congress. This agreement is too important. We can and should pass it as soon as Congress reconvenes in September.
Ron Wright is a U.S. Congressman for Texas' 6th Congressional District, which includes Ellis and Navarro Counties, as well as a portion of Tarrant County.