Rep. Bruce Westerman: 'USMCA would provide certainty in our markets'

Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-Arkansas) urged Congress to pass the United States-Mexico-Canada-Agreement (USMCA), saying it affords businesses the ability to plan for the future.

“USMCA would provide certainty in our markets, giving businesses the opportunity to plan and project future production levels,” Westerman told the Arkansas Business Daily.

Canada is the top destination of trade for Arkansas, Tennessee and Mississippi, with exports totaling $1.68 billion in 2017, according to a previous Arkansas Business Daily report. 

Westerman said since trade is so important to the economy, the sooner we settle, the faster we can build a stronger economy. 

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) reports Arkansas manufacturing workers earn an “average $56,728 in total annual compensation compared to $39,201 for workers across all private nonfarm industries.” Some of the biggest exports out of the Natural State include food and beverages, fabricated metal products, electrical equipment and components, plastics, agriculture and HVAC and refrigeration equipment.

“Canada and Mexico represent less than 4 percent of the global economy, but they are big purchasers of Arkansas’s goods, purchasing substantial portions of Arkansas’s foreign sales of major manufactured goods, supporting well-paying jobs in communities across Arkansas,” NAM reports.

American Farm Bureau Federation President Vincent "Zippy" Duvall has asked members to let their elected legislators in Washington know the importance of the USMCA to American farming.

“Since NAFTA went into effect in 1994, U.S. ag exports to Canada and Mexico have more than quadrupled, making these our number 1 and number 2 markets respectively. In 2018 alone, we exported $20.7 billion in ag products to Canada and $19 billion to Mexico,” Duvall said on the organization’s website.

Duvall adds that Canada and Mexico markets have raised the value of both U.S. farmers and ranchers, with agriculture imports rising 27% to Canada and 33% to Mexico.

“But as good as NAFTA has been, it’s time for an upgrade: it’s time for Congress to approve USMCA,” Duvall said.

There are trade imbalances in our society that need to be corrected, according to Westerman.

“We’ve allowed ourselves to be taken advantage of by creating an uneven playing field and allowing competitors to steal our technology and ideas,” Westerman said.

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