USMCA could impact West Valley

House approves new trade agreement with Canada, Mexico

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Growth along the Loop 303 corridor could see a boost with the approval of a new U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement.

Just hours after a bitterly partisan impeachment vote, the House turned around in mid-December and gave overwhelming bipartisan approval to the USMCA trade agreement that could affect billions of dollars in annual trade for Arizona — certainly welcome news for the West Valley.

The 385-41 vote was just one step in the approval process for the USMCA deal, but it was hailed by business and labor groups as an important step toward replacing the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement.

While lawmakers on both ends of the political spectrum quibbled with parts of the final deal, all nine House members from Arizona voted for the 239-page measure.

Arizona businesses exported $9.8 billion in goods and services to Canada and Mexico in 2018, according to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, with $7.6 billion going to Mexico and $2.2 billion to Canada.

The state also imported $10.6 billion that year from its North American trading partners, with $9 billion coming from Mexico and more than $1.5 billion from Canada, according to data from the University of Arizona’s Eller School of Management.

Replacing NAFTA was a campaign promise of President Donald Trump, who claimed the deal was unfair to U.S. businesses and farmers and badly in need of an update.

Negotiations between the three countries began shortly after Mr. Trump took office, in 2017, and a preliminary deal was signed last year.

The bill approved includes stricter monitoring of environmental and labor standards, as well as language that Democrats said could lower U.S. prescription drug costs – changes that were significant enough to win the endorsement of the AFL-CIO.

The deal also includes new sections on digital trade and protections on intellectual property, as well as a guaranteed minimum wage for autoworkers in Mexico.

Glenn Hamer, the president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce, said the agreement is needed for a state like Arizona.

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