Congressional Democrats announced Tuesday that they had reached a deal on the United States Mexico Canada Agreement, a trade agreement among North American nations that would replace NAFTA.
Illinois’ 17th District Congresswoman Cheri Bustos says it’s a “historic step” towards “much-needed trade certainty.”
Not many hard details are publicly available but the consensus from government officials is that it would expand markets for American farmers.
USMCA is important for farmers, particularly as trade with China suffers, although the agreement also deals with environmental concerns, healthcare costs, and labor.
Bustos says there the agreement also sets up better enforcement mechanisms for labor, saying it will combat companies shipping jobs to Mexico.
USCMA does that by encouraging Mexican wages to rise and by increasing enforceable labor standards.
“Let’s just look at Maytag that up and left out of Galesburg about 15 years ago, taking the thousands of jobs and going from paying very good wages were people could support their families in Knox County to paying a dollar or two an hour down in Mexico. Well, those days are over.”
Mexico and Canada are the U.S.’s biggest trading partner, trailing only China. Rep. Bustos says that North American trading partners have become more crucial for farm exports amid the ongoing trade dispute with China.
“Look, when it comes to being anybody in agriculture you want to expand your markets. This puts us in a good place again with two of our three biggest agriculture trading partners.”
There are also more rules governing intellectual property and data, as well as labor and environmental protections over NAFTA.
Congressional Republicans seem uneasy about the trade agreement, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell saying “it’s not as good as I had hoped.”
President Trump and Congressional Democrats are both praising the deal, both seeming to score this is as a legislative victory.