Omaha World-Herald: Lance Fritz: New North American trade accord deserves passage

Lance Fritz: New North American trade accord deserves passage
Omaha World-Herald
By Lance Fritz
October 5, 2019

The writer is chairman, president and chief executive officer of Union Pacific.

As a freight transportation industry leader, we understand better than most how important the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) is to our country’s economy. The significant progress made in just the last few weeks on the USMCA puts a deal within striking distance. America needs to pass the USMCA as soon as possible to help protect American jobs and grow opportunities for American workers, farmers, businesses and consumers.

Trade with Canada and Mexico supports more than 12 million jobs in the U.S. economy. It drives U.S. export growth, as Canada and Mexico buy one-fifth of everything manufacturers make in America and more U.S.-made goods than our next 11 trading partners combined. The security of millions of American jobs depends on the stability and certainty that American businesses need to make long-term investment decisions.

Passing the USMCA will give American companies this certainty, while bringing our trade relationship with Canada and Mexico into the 21st century. The agreement updates the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with modern rules to reflect technological progress and higher standards to level the playing field for job creators in the U.S. The USMCA includes enforcement for all issues including market opening commitments, stronger protections for our nation’s innovators, and new labor and environmental standards.

The USMCA maintains the current tariff-free access to Mexico for American exports. For Canada, it maintains the current tariff-free access for 99% of U.S. products and eliminates some remaining barriers facing U.S. dairy and poultry exports.

Canada and Mexico purchase more than one-third of Nebraska’s total global manufacturing exports. Top Nebraska exports to Canada and Mexico include food and beverages, agriculture, construction and mining machinery, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and medicines, and fabricated metal products. One out of five Nebraska manufacturing firms exports to Canada and Mexico.

Union Pacific ships the goods American businesses and families need and use daily. These include electronics, agricultural products, building materials, automobiles and auto parts, furniture, toys, wind turbine components, coal, chemicals that keep our drinking water clean, plastics and so much more. Approximately 40% of Union Pacific’s business either originates or terminates outside the United States. Many of our customers depend on trade with Canada and Mexico to grow their businesses. Passing the USMCA is as important to Union Pacific and our 39,000 employees as it is to our roughly 10,000 customers.

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