Advisor and Former Chief Executive Officer, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
December 16, 2019
This week marks a watershed moment for North American trade relations. After months of intense deliberation, the administration, House Democrats, and the Mexican and Canadian governments have found a path forward on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). With the House expected to vote on the agreement later this week, we are one step closer to securing a major bipartisan victory for our economy.
The upcoming vote on USMCA is the culmination of years of hard work and many long hours of negotiation. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has been deeply engaged since day one—from the earliest days when the future of NAFTA itself was in question, to the creation of a business coalition to advance the agreement earlier this year, to the full-court press in Congress this fall. In 2019 alone, the Chamber has held more than 1,000 meetings with members of Congress or their staff to weigh in on the deal. And our voices have been heard loud and clear.
USMCA will be a boon to manufacturing, services, and agricultural enterprises, as well as small business. It will preserve and strengthen our commercial ties with Mexico and Canada—our top two export markets—and guarantee that virtually all U.S. exports enter these markets tariff free. In several areas, it will update the more than 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement with key provisions for digital trade, financial services, and agriculture trade. And it will protect the jobs of the 12 million Americans whose livelihoods depend on trade with our closest neighbors.
Of course, USMCA isn’t without its weaknesses, specifically in the area of intellectual property (IP) where key provisions were removed from the agreement at the last minute. Among those were critical IP protections that would have advanced innovation and research in the biopharmaceutical industry. In this area, the agreement cannot stand as a precedent for future agreements. That’s why the Chamber is doubly committed to maintaining U.S. leadership in intellectual property creation by protecting it in law and in agreements at home and abroad.
Even with some shortcomings, USMCA is a strong deal overall that represents a hard-fought bipartisan victory. It’s also a testament to the tenacity of the American business community and its ability to forge consensus on even the most difficult issues. With the finish line in view, we encourage lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to do what’s best for our economy by voting yes on USMCA.