US House of Representatives, White House reach deal on USMCA
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi held a press conference with House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal Dec. 10 to discuss the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), announcing that the U.S. House of Representatives and the White House have reached a deal on the agreement.
“This is a day we have all been working to and working for on the path to yes,” she said, adding that workers’ rights, environmental protections and prescription drug issues had been areas of negotiation.
“There is no question that this trade agreement is better than NAFTA,” Pelosi said, referring the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which the USMCA will replace. “Because of our work here, it is infinitely better than what was initially proposed by the administration.”
In a statement released Dec. 10, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Neal said the USMCA deal between the House and the U.S. Trade Representative “is the culmination of months of House Democrats’ work to transform the new NAFTA into a deal that respects the dignity of workers, contains meaningful enforcement provisions and prioritizes environmental protection and remediation. Our purposeful efforts produced changes to the USMCA that earned the endorsement of the AFL-CIO and will set a new standard for U.S. trade agreements moving forward. Democrats secured improvements aimed at enhancing North America’s economic competitiveness and advancing the United States, Mexico and Canada’s collective work to empower workers, protect patients’ access to affordable health care and improve our shared environment.”
In a statement issued Dec. 10, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said, “Thanks to the steadfast leadership of the president, passage of the USMCA continues to gain momentum as leaders from Canada, Mexico and our own congressional members have all now voiced strong support. I am encouraged by these developments and look forward to more voices every day confirming what we already know: that the USMCA will further American prosperity, create more American jobs and fuel economic growth in communities across the continent.”
A number of industry associations also have weighed in on the progress made on the USMCA.
Robin Wiener, president of the Washington-based Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), released a statement that reads: “ISRI welcomes the progress made between the Trump administration and the House of Representatives as they take proactive next steps necessary to the passage of USMCA. We support the swift movement toward the passage of USMCA, as it supports more than 160,000 U.S. recycling industry jobs dependent on trade.”
ISRI says the USMCA will benefit the recycling industry in a number of ways, including the support of strong trade exceeding $7.7 billion, maintaining tariff-free access for scrap commodities exported into Mexico, improved and accelerated customs clearances, indirect recognition of ISRI specifications as industry standards and the creation of demand through auto rules of origin.
Thomas J. Gibson, president and CEO of the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI), Washington, says, “The steel industry welcomes today’s agreement between the administration and congressional Democrats that clears the way for a congressional vote on the USMCA. Implementation of the USMCA is critical to strengthening the steel industry’s competitiveness in the face of the continued challenges from global excess capacity and weakening demand. We urge Congress to quickly pass this new trade agreement before the end of this year.”
Heidi Brock, president and CEO of the American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA), Washington, says in a statement: “Our industry welcomes forward movement on a revised U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement and looks forward to reviewing the details as the measure makes its way to Congress.”
She adds, “U.S. pulp and paper exports to Mexico and Canada support 88,000 direct American jobs and in 2018 amounted to $10.1 billion, or 44 percent, of total exports. Strong regulatory standards and provisions to combat illegal logging and associated trade, among other provisions, are essential to strengthening the industry and its products in the North American market.”
Tony Radoszewski, president and CEO of the Plastics Industry Association (Plastics), Washington, says, “Plastics is encouraged to see support growing for the U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement. We expect this trade deal will have a positive impact on American consumers and businesses and are glad to see the path toward ratification coming into focus.
“We look forward to reviewing the agreement’s final text and working with Congress to move the USMCA forward.”