Richmond Times-Dispatch: Rick Boucher and Tom Davis column: Keep America growing with the USMCA

Rick Boucher and Tom Davis column: Keep America growing with the USMCA
Richmond Times-Dispatch
By Rick Boucher and Tom Davis
October 16, 2019

Trade with Canada and Mexico plays a crucial role in Virginia’s success story. Since it was signed, NAFTA has allowed regional trade to triple and U.S. manufacturing output to increase by more than one-third. Now Congress should build on that success, secure our future prosperity and get the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) done.

The U.S. International Trade Commission projects that passing the USMCA will create 176,000 new jobs and add $68 billion annually to the national economy, and the agreement sets new standards that will provide a level playing field for businesses in the U.S. From enhanced digital rules to upgraded environmental and labor standards, the USMCA represents a strong achievement worthy of full-throated, bipartisan support.

With the USMCA in place, farmers in Virginia and across the country would be among the greatest beneficiaries. The agreement will open new Canadian markets to dairy, poultry and eggs, eliminate discriminatory food standards and boost U.S. agricultural exports by more than $2 billion per year. In Virginia, where agriculture is the largest private industry and the backbone of our rural communities, the USMCA will help preserve this heritage and the nearly 450,000 jobs it supports.

The USMCA is also a boon for the manufacturing economy. According to the National Association of Manufacturers, 2 million American manufacturing jobs depend on exports to Canada and Mexico. Virginia alone makes everything from steel beams to semiconductors and boasts an unparalleled workforce, with more than 13,000 manufacturing jobs that rely on North American trade. The commonwealth is ready to build on our more than $4 billion in exports to Canada and Mexico and create more highly paid, skilled jobs in the manufacturing sector.

The benefits of the USMCA don’t end there. This agreement better protects creativity, technology and other intellectual property generated by Virginians — and roots out unfair or corrupt business practices by state-owned businesses that compete with U.S.-based companies.

The clear benefits of the USMCA have fueled a growing chorus of support for the agreement — from farmers and ranchers to manufacturers, small business leaders to our largest employers, voters of all political persuasions, and, yes, Democrats and Republicans alike.

We see a nation competing confidently around the globe and in Virginia. We believe the American Dream can best be fully realized by expanding trade on fair terms with two of our largest trading partners. The new agreement has been carefully negotiated, and it offers extraordinary benefits to both our local and the national economies.

With the best interests of our commonwealth and country at heart, we should keep America growing by ratifying the USMCA and seizing the opportunity for prosperity it offers for all Americans.

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