November 14, 2019
There is perhaps no more economically important issue to Southern Arizona than America’s finalization of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). It would bring more than 228,000 jobs to Arizona and more than $16.6 billion in overall cross-border trade with our nation’s largest trade partner. As was made clear by the UA’s recent conference, Arizona and the Future of North American Trade, the USMCA benefits numerous industries in Southern Arizona, including manufacturing and agriculture.
There is no excuse for the delay in passage by Congress, yet it hasn’t happened because the House of Representatives hasn’t taken the legislation up. There is clear bipartisan support for passage in the Senate, including by Arizona’s two senators, Martha McSally and KyrstenSinema. That kind of bipartisan cooperation demonstrates the type of governance we Arizonans demand from our national representatives in Washington.
However, we aren’t getting that kind of leadership from all members of the Arizona delegation, in particular from Democratic Representative Ann Kirkpatrick, who represents Congressional District 2. Why isn’t the congresswoman calling on Speaker Nancy Pelosi to bring the USMCA to the floor for a vote, joining fellow Democrats Sinema and Congressman Greg Stanton? USMCA is President Trump’s top priority, and that may be why the congresswoman isn’t pressing for a vote, but it is also Arizona’s economic priority and we cannot afford politics to delay its benefits to our great state.
Free trade has been a staple of the American global economic system since World War II — a system that the U.S. created to encourage global economic growth by the U.S. absorbing imports from other nations as they grew. This was very much in America’s interests to encourage the growth of markets for American exports. However, after 70 years, many of these agreements need to be revisited and reworked to ensure fairness for the American economy and worker; and while it is a more recent agreement (20 years plus), USMCA replacing NAFTA is just the first step.
As part of our global economic leadership and to keep costs low for American consumers, the U.S. keeps our economy much more open to imports from other nations. A glance at the World Trade Organization 2017 statistics shows that America’s simple average tariff rate of 3.4% is considerably less than that for our top trading partners of Japan, Canada, the EU, Mexico, Brazil and South Korea — and in particular, for China (9.8%) and India (13.8%). It is time to ask that our partners meet our average tariff rates. The U.S. has served its own interests by playing a global leadership role for the last 70 years by helping developing nations bring billions of human beings out of poverty and promoting their economic growth — but the time has come to reexamine these relationships in order to ensure that American interests are still being served.
Where does Arizona fit in all this? President Trump began reviewing America’s global economic agreements with our neighboring countries, Mexico and Canada, which ultimately resulted in the USMCA. All of Arizona’s members of Congress should be urging the House to bring this legislation up for passage so that it can be sent to the Senate and then to the president — not for political reasons, but for the economic health of our country and in particular Southeastern Arizona. I urge Arizona’s congressional delegation to speak as one to move this critical legislation forward.