House passes USMCA
The House of Representatives has passed the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement by a bipartisan vote of 385-41. The agreement will now go to the Senate for a vote. Once Congress acts, the president is expected to sign the agreement, which will finalize its enactment.
“I’ve long said that support for USMCA crosses political parties, the bipartisan passage of the agreement today is proof of that,” said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. “I am pleased the House finally brought this agreement to a vote and encourage quick passage in the Senate. President Trump delivered on his promise to replace NAFTA and USMCA is a huge success for America’s farmers and ranchers. This agreement will unleash the bounty of America’s agricultural harvest to two of our largest trading partners in the world and it is critical to the success of rural America.”
“With today’s strong vote by the House, we encourage the Senate to move forward with consideration of USMCA,” said Tom Stenzel, United Fresh president and chief executive officer. “For the fresh produce industry, this is a welcomed achievement as we continue to meet the demands from consumers for increased availability of healthy fresh fruits and vegetables. Finally, we believe this new trade agreement will strengthen our partnership between the three countries and provide essential cooperation in the fresh fruit and vegetable industry.”
USMCA will advance United States agricultural interests in two of the most important markets for American farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses. This high-standard agreement builds upon existing markets to expand United States food and agricultural exports and support food processing and rural jobs.
“The U.S. Apple Association applauds today’s House approval of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, as Mexico and Canada represent our top two export markets, totaling nearly a half-billion dollars in annual sales," said Jim Bair, president and CEO of the U.S. Apple Association. "Growing apples is a risky business and locking in our largest markets adds certainty for the long haul. It lets U.S. growers get back to doing what they do best -- producing superior quality apples in a volume and range of varieties not available anywhere else.
“Canada, Mexico and the United States combine to make up the most competitive and successful regional economic platform in the world," said Bair. "Under the North American Free Trade Agreement, the predecessor to USMCA, apple exports to Mexico quadrupled and those to Canada doubled.
“Throughout USMCA negotiations, USApple members carried out unprecedented advocacy efforts to help secure ratification of the agreement," said Bair. "Through media events, opinion editorials, community roundtables, Capitol Hill fly-ins and congressional meetings, apple growers and leaders joined the agriculture community in record numbers to help get it over the finish line. USApple looks forward to the Senate ratifying the agreement early in the coming year."
"Canada and Mexico are our first- and second-largest export markets for United States food and agricultural products, totaling more than $39.7 billion food and agricultural exports in 2018," said Perdue. "These exports support more than 325,000 American jobs.
All food and agricultural products that have zero tariffs under the North American Free Trade Agreement will remain at zero tariffs. Since the original NAFTA did not eliminate all tariffs on agricultural trade between the United States and Canada, the USMCA will create new market access opportunities for United States exports to Canada of dairy, poultry, and eggs, and in exchange the United States will provide new access to Canada for some dairy, peanut, and a limited amount of sugar and sugar-containing products.
Earlier this year, nearly 1,000 American food and agriculture associations and companies announced their support for USMCA and the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture signed a letter to Congressional leadership urging them to ratify USMCA.
In September, all former U.S. Secretaries of Agriculture since President Reagan’s Administration announced support for USMCA. In a letter to Congressional leaders, former secretaries John Block (Reagan), Mike Espy (Clinton), Dan Glickman (Clinton), Ann Veneman (W. Bush), Mike Johanns (W. Bush), Ed Shafer (W. Bush), and Tom Vilsack (Obama) underscored the importance of passing USMCA saying, “We need a strong and reliable trade deal with our top two customers for U.S. agriculture products. USMCA will provide certainty in the North American market for the U.S. farm sector and rural economy. We strongly support ratification of USMCA.”
For the first time, the agreement specifically addresses agricultural biotechnology – including new technologies such as gene editing – to support innovation and reduce trade-distorting policies.
The agreement institutes a more rigorous process for establishing geographical indicators and lays out additional factors to be considered in determining whether a term is a common name.
The three countries agree to strengthen disciplines for science-based measures that protect human, animal, and plant health while improving the flow of trade.