The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) will directly benefit Arkansas, according to Rep. Rick Crawford (R-Arkansas).
"USMCA would be welcome news for Arkansas' economy considering Arkansas businesses exported $2.1 billion worth of goods to Canada and Mexico in 2018," Crawford told the Arkansas Business Daily. "Under USMCA, existing market access to Canada and Mexico would be maintained while securing lucrative improvements in the new trade deal."
The trilateral trade deal would assist in Arkansas' substantial manufacturing industry, according to Crawford, and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) concurs. The NAM reports 440 firms supply exports to both Canada and Mexico, which maintains up to 62% of small and medium-sized businesses aiding Arkansas's local economy.
"With USMCA in place, poultry producers will have new access to the Canadian market, and manufacturers will experience a more level playing field with enforceable labor standards throughout North America," Crawford said.
It's not only manufacturing that would benefit from the USMCA, according to Crawford.
"It would come as a relief to farmers who have already been suffering from two years of unfair trade practices and recent severe weather damage," he said. "Poultry producers, which often fall victim to sudden unfair restrictions from nations like China, would benefit greatly from having access to the Canadian market."
American Farm Bureau Federation President Vincent "Zippy" Duvall said on the organization's website that without the new agreement replacing the North American Fair Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the "most critical markets" of Canada and Mexico hang in the balance.
"The USMCA is also important in setting the stage for other modern trade agreements for U.S. agriculture," Duvall said. "NAFTA needed to be modernized, and the USMCA has bells and whistles that we don't have under our existing trade agreements."
Crawford said corn farmers in Arkansas suffered a very rainy planting season, and they need the security of knowing that access to their No. 1 trade partner Mexico is maintained.
"Folks have long been throwing around the phrase 'trade war' to describe the recent actions taken by the Trump administration to stand up to lopsided trade agreements and unfair trade practices," Crawford said. He added that if there is a trade war, officials should understand that it started long before Trump stepped into the Oval Office.
"America has the right to stand up to nations that have time and time again proven that they are not good trade partners – the most recent instance being China," Crawford said.
He added if China were an amiable trade partner, it would mirror Mexico's actions and work in good faith to avoid tariffs and attempt to make amends.
"Trade negotiations are ongoing, but I am optimistic that a trade deal will be reached in the near future that will put our nation in a better position," Crawford said.