Arrington: USMCA passage is critical for Texas energy, agriculturewebmaster July 3, 2019 0 COMMENTS
Congressman Jodey Arrington is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives serving the Nineteenth Congressional District of Texas. He serves as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.
Writing in the Abilene Reporter-News this week, Arrington urged his colleagues in Congress to pass the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) in order to deliver a major win for agriculture and energy producers in Texas and across America.
The USMCA was signed by United States President Donald Trump, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on November 30, 2018, as a side event of the 2018 G20 Summit in Buenos Aires. Each country’s legislature still must ratify the agreement
On May 29, 2019, Trudeau tabled a bill in the House of Commons to implement the USMCA.
On June 19, 2019, the Senate of Mexico ratified the agreement.
The full text of the column follows:
Trade agreement passage
critical for Texas ag, energy
Rep. Jodey Arrington
June 27, 2019
Recently, I raised a question to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer about the consequences to our economy if the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) fails to pass Congress.
“We’re going to have a catastrophe if this doesn’t pass,” Ambassador Lighthizer told me. “There are tens of millions of jobs at stake.”
And if what we’re facing is a catastrophe, Texas will most certainly be ground zero.
That’s because, since 1994, Texas has been at the epicenter of North American trade – not only because of our state’s geography but, more importantly, because of our bountiful resources, capacity for innovation, and pioneering people.
In fact, trade with our neighbors to the north and the south supports almost a million Texas jobs, and our state’s economy stands to grow considerably thanks to the nearly $70 billion in real GDP (gross domestic product) and more than 170,000 jobs that USMCA is projected to deliver, according to the nonpartisan International Trade Commission.
In rural and urban communities alike, free and fair trade has served as the foundation for economic prosperity throughout the Lone Star State. From the food, fuel, and fiber production centers in my district in West Texas to the processing, packaging, and shipping facilities in the powerhouse port cities like Houston, Texas, is the agriculture and energy capital of the world.
Now, for the first time in a quarter century and after months of hard-fought negotiations by this administration, Congress has an opportunity to deliver a major win for agriculture and energy producers in Texas and across America by passing the USMCA.
Building on the success of NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement), under which U.S. agriculture exports more than quadrupled from $9 billion to $40 billion, the USMCA is projected to grow our agriculture exports by an additional $2.2 billion annually, according to the commission’s report.
Not only does the USMCA maintain duty-free access for American farmers in Mexico, it also significantly opens the Canadian market to American dairy, wheat, and poultry products.
The new agreement also levels the playing field by bringing Mexico and Canada up to same high standards as the U.S. Furthermore, it enhances public health outcomes through food safety requirements, which will protect people and products from diseases and other contaminants.
Just as the USMCA helps put Texas farmers in a better position to compete globally, it also strengthens the position of Texas energy producers in maintaining our global leadership as a net energy exporter.
Thanks to the shale revolution, Texas alone is currently responsible for nearly a quarter of the nation’s natural gas production, allowing our Gulf Coast exporters to provide efficient and clean-burning fuel to our international partners.
At our current pace, U.S. natural gas production is set to overtake domestic consumption by 2021, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
USMCA ensures that Texas natural gas producers will be able to sell excess natural gas to our North American partners, further advancing our nation’s energy independence, leadership in environmental stewardship, and ability to supply our allies around the world.
But despite the clear and substantial benefits that the USMCA would offer to North American economy and its workers, congressional Democrats have refused to budge toward approving the new agreement, even as Mexico became the first nation to ratify the pact last week.
To be clear: every day Democrats delay a vote on USMCA is a setback for America’s farmers, energy producers and workers in nearly every industry in our nation. It’s also a lost opportunity for this Administration to negotiate similar trade deals in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region, where we are seriously lagging behind our competitors and ceding our share of the market.
To underscore this point, Ambassador Lighthizer said, “If we can’t pass this agreement, what does it say about (America’s) resolve to have a fair trading system?”
I could not agree more, and I sincerely urge my colleagues in the Texas Congressional Delegation to take note of what’s at stake in further delaying passage of USMCA.
President Donald Trump has done the right thing by renegotiating NAFTA to work better for America. Now it’s time for Democrats to do the right thing by putting politics aside, putting America first, and working with Republicans to pass the USMCA.