Congress will soon have an important decision to make on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) that will significantly impact residents in Washington State and across the country.
For the United States, Canada and Mexico serve as the two largest export markets. Trade with the two countries was valued at nearly $1.4 trillion in 2018. Additionally, trade with our North American neighbors supports 12 million American jobs across the country across industries.
But why is this so important, especially for the state of Washington?
Trade with Canada and Mexico supports nearly 300,000 Washington-based jobs. USMCA is vital for Washington’s agriculture and technology sectors, which play an integral role in the state’s economy. Nationwide, U.S. manufacturers export more American-made goods to Canada and Mexico than to the next 11 largest export markets combined. The two countries also account for nearly one-third of U.S. agricultural exports.
The Evergreen State depends on trade with Canada and Mexico. The total value of Washington exports sent to both countries was $12.4 billion in 2018, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, Economic Indicators Division. The top export products included the following:
Washington’s top three exports to Canada
- Aircraft and spacecraft
- Mineral fuel and oil
- Nuclear reactors, boilers, and machinery parts
Washington’s top three exports to Mexico
- Mineral fuel and oil
- Aircraft and aircraft parts
- Electrical machinery equipment and parts
Washington’s 460 dairy farms and plants stand to benefit from USMCA as well. Mexico is currently the top export market for U.S. dairy exports. USMCA will lock in that market access by eliminating some remaining barriers facing U.S. dairy exports. Dairy products are declining in consumption as nearly nine in ten Washington state dairy farms closed over the past 15 years, according to an article in The Seattle Times. This additional access to Canadian markets would likely increase the number of dairy exports – a change that could have a significant impact on the economic outlook for Washington farmers.
In addition to American farmers and manufacturers, USMCA would be a big win for small businesses. Canada and Mexico are the top two export destinations for U.S. small and medium-size businesses, more than 120,000 of which sell their goods and services to our North American neighbors.
“An integrated North American market, which this new USMCA continues, is critical to Washington state businesses, farmers, ranchers and workers. Washington state exports into Mexico have increased 700 percent, and exports to Canada have grown 200 percent since [the] North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) began,” Lori Otto Punke, president of the Washington Council on International Trade, said in a statement.
Local apple and hops farmer Patrick Smith, who runs the Loftus Ranches in Yakima, Washington, noted the benefits of USMCA in the farming industry.
“I think there’s a lot for farmers to be excited about in this deal. Farmers, of course, deal with a lot of uncertainty already, so taking away some of the uncertainty regarding a couple of our most important trading partners is welcome news for most of us,” he told nonprofit news organization Marketplace in October.
On top of maintaining access to two vital markets, USMCA will establish the strongest science-based sanitary and phytosanitary standards achieved in any trade agreement. It also provides transparency and information sharing on measures impacting trade in biotechnology products.
Across the country, the U.S. business and agriculture communities are rallying together to make the case for USMCA approval. More than 400 companies and associations from every sector of the economy have banded together to form the USMCA Coalition to urge Congress to pass the agreement.
The case for USMCA’s approval is strong. And the voices supporting its passage are growing stronger. Join us as we urge Congress to approve USMCA as soon as possible.