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Last fall, Canada, Mexico and the United States agreed on a new trade deal to update and replace NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement.
The new United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement, USMCA, will create more than 175,000 new American jobs and add $68.2 billion to our economy. It will provide consumers with affordable high-quality products and, unlike other trade agreements, will ensure American jobs are protected from outsourcing.
USMCA is a winning proposition for folks in North Carolina and across the nation.
For instance, the deal maintains NAFTA’s zero-tariff treatment on the vast majority of agricultural exports and creates new market access opportunities for our farmers worth upwards of $450 million. All told, the International Trade Commission estimates USMCA will boost agricultural exports by more than $2 billion a year. After soldiering through years of crippling storms and market uncertainty North Carolina farmers can look forward to dependable and expanded trade with our neighbors.
North Carolina’s robust manufacturing industry also stands to gain from USMCA. Last year our manufacturers sold more than $10 billion in goods to Canada and Mexico, accounting for nearly one-third of our state’s total manufacturing exports. USMCA contains a host of provisions that will sustain this commerce and help our businesses grow and compete globally. The agreement also includes new worker protections that will level the playing field and ensure our jobs are not shipped overseas.
North Carolina is home to more than 800,000 small businesses that employ roughly 1.6 million people. However, only about a quarter of our small businesses sell their products or services online, in part due to the onerous cost barriers created by international shipping rates and regulatory paperwork. USMCA addresses these problems by streamlining customs processes and reducing the cost (due to tariffs and customs duties) of shipping to Mexico and Canada. These changes will empower small businesses to use the internet to reach millions of new customers abroad.
USMCA also strengthens intellectual property right protections — such as patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. That will help ensure foreign competitors do not steal our cutting-edge products and services.
Unlike many of the trade deals we have entered into in the past, USMCA delivers on the promise of free, fair and reciprocal trade. It will empower businesses of all sizes, across all industries, to grow and create jobs. And it will provide our farmers and manufacturers with much-needed certainty and market access.
Unfortunately, USMCA is currently being held hostage by partisan politics in Washington. Speaker Nancy Pelosi is refusing to allow a vote on the agreement.
Frankly, this is one of those times I find myself looking at Washington politics and shaking my head in frustration. It’s time for Speaker Pelosi — and her allies in Congress — to take a break from investigating the President and go to work to get USMCA across the finish line.
Rep. George Holding, R-Raleigh, represents North Carolina’s 2nd Congressional District, which includes western Wilson County.