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For over two decades, a rising tide of commerce between the United States and Mexico has boosted growth and trade, supporting millions of American jobs and delivering benefits for both countries.
Tom Donohue, U.S. Chamber president and CEO, is optimistic that will continue. “We see many new opportunities for faster growth, deeper investment, and stronger North American competitiveness,” he told the American Chamber of Commerce in Mexico.
This optimism stems from the fact that President Donald Trump’s “administration is committed to revitalizing economic growth,” and that “the President has demonstrated a commitment to implementing policy in a pragmatic way that advances the best interests of the United States.”
Donohue reminded the audience of business leaders in the Mexican capital of the agreement’s importance to the economies of the U.S., Mexico, and Canada:
Maintaining a rocksteady strategic and economic partnership is essential to our own growth and prosperity, as well as to the strength and competitiveness of North America in the global economy. ... Our relationship has helped establish North America as the world’s most competitive economic region. And, as I also told our partners in Canada on a recent trip to Ottawa, we aim to keep it that way. The cornerstone of this mutually beneficial relationship is, of course, NAFTA.
“The jobs of 14 million Americans depend on the agreement. It is crucial to our manufacturing and services sectors, to U.S. farms, and to 125,000 American small and medium-size businesses,” he added. A recent analysis by the Chamber, entitled The Facts on NAFTA, offers further details.
Nonetheless, Donohue agreed it’s time to modernize the 23-year-old trade agreement. “Remember, things like e-commerce and the digital economy didn’t even exist when NAFTA was negotiated more than two decades ago” he said.
When it comes to updating the trade agreement in a way that advances North America’s competitiveness across the globe, Donohue laid out a few principles:
First and foremost, do no harm. ... Next, to avoid disrupting the flow of trade and the jobs NAFTA supports, we should amend it, not end it. ... U.S. negotiators should consult Congress by following the Trade Promotion Authority bill, or TPA, that the U.S. Chamber helped pass into law in 2015. ... Next, we should keep it trilateral. Maintaining NAFTA’s three-party framework is critical, as transitioning to entirely new bilateral agreements presents real risks. ... Finally, we’ve got to move quickly.
A modernized NAFTA that strengthens North American economic ties will benefit all three countries. “Our economic fates, our standing in the world, and the prosperity of our people are linked,” Donohue said. ”We must continue to work together to secure them—as friends, neighbors, and partners do.”