Charles Sukup and Gage Kent: Congress must pass USMCA for the good of Iowa’s economy
Des Moines Register
By Charles Sukup and Gage Kent
July 30, 2019
For more than six months, a chorus of industries — including manufacturing, agriculture, farming, small business and more — have been voicing their support for the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.
This new trade agreement would address many outdated policies in place under the North American Free Trade Agreement and expand U.S. manufacturers’ access to the North American marketplace. At the same time, it would preserve North American free trade for industries across the nation.
Canada and Mexico represent Iowa’s closest trading partners, ranking as the No. 1 and and No. 2 destinations for exports and keeping us globally competitive. These two countries purchase nearly half of our global manufacturing goods — including food and beverages, agriculture, machinery and more — and we export more than $5.5 billion to Canada and Mexico, according to data released by the National Association of Manufacturers. The data also show that trade with Canada and Mexico supports one out of four manufacturing firms, many of which are small or medium sized, and this commerce supports well-paying jobs for more than 25,000 Iowans.
Across the U.S., more than 43,000 manufacturers, employing 2 million Americans, export to our neighbors to the north and south. It is clear that the USMCA is critical for both the U.S. and Iowa’s economy.
That is the message we conveyed in Washington, D.C., during a recent meeting with Vice President Mike Pence. Manufacturing leaders from across the nation joined the vice president to discuss the positive impacts USMCA passage would have on our businesses and workers. For Iowa specifically, the USMCA would ensure trade certainty, create more career-track jobs and have long-lasting, positive effects for families and businesses. These benefits are exactly why Gov. Kim Reynolds has been an outspoken and steadfast advocate for the USMCA.
The USMCA includes provisions that address some of the biggest concerns for agricultural and manufacturing businesses — Iowa’s two largest sectors. First, the agreement would update archaic rules and provide us access to even more North American consumers. And with the ability to sell more products, businesses would make more investments here at home, including in employee training, education and health care, and ultimately create more jobs. In fact, the International Trade Commission found that, if implemented, the USMCA would add 176,000 jobs and raise U.S. GPD by nearly $70 billion.
Just as critical to our manufacturing and agricultural communities are the updates the USMCA would make to intellectual property protections and enforcements across our three countries. Innovation and ideas are the bedrocks of American manufacturing. And to support these important creations, the USMCA provides best-in-class IP provisions that would reduce fears of IP theft and encourage American creators to keep transforming and modernizing the world as we know it.
The USMCA would also ensure more consistent labor standards across our three nations to help prevent American jobs from being undercut and outsourced to other countries, leveling the playing field and helping ensure that more things will be made right here in our country.
Agriculture and manufacturing are the lifeblood of our economy, making it critical for our lawmakers to support policies that will better the future of these industries — for our children, grandchildren, employees and broader communities in which we live.
Charles Sukup is president of Sukup Manufacturing Co. in Sheffield, Iowa, and Gage Kent is chairman and CEO of Kent Corporation in Muscatine, Iowa.