Time to act on trade pact is now
Last week, the Trump administration announced the removal of steel and aluminum tariffs on our North American neighbors, Mexico and Canada, alleviating a burden on our agriculture producers and removing a barrier for passage of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.
With this positive step forward, now is the time for Congress to act and pass USMCA.
This latest move signals that relief for our
and our farming families will be able to take a deep breath as we take a big step forward by modernizing the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Historically, trade with our neighbors has been a success story and the USMCA strengthens these relationships. From 1993 to 2017, exports to Canada and Mexico tripled from $27 billion to $91 billion, with nearly one-third of U.S. agricultural exports going to Mexico and Canada in 2017.
Aside from modernizing the 25-year-old NAFTA, current terms that have been negotiated for the USMCA would increase US agricultural exports to Canada and the rest of the world by $2.2 billion, with $435 million of that estimated to come from just increased market access.
Illinois particularly has much to gain from passage of USMCA. Canada and Mexico are responsible for a 29 percent and a 14 percent market share of all Illinois exports, respectively. For Illinois agriculture, Canada accounts for 18 percent of all Illinois agricultural exports and Mexico accounts for 10 percent. With Canada and Mexico, alone, Illinois farmers export 40 percent of their corn, 13 percent of their beef and 34 percent of their pork to the two countries.
As the nation’s top soybean producer and a leader in corn production, as well, market accessibility is key to getting Illinois’ commodities around the globe. If passed, USMCA will expand that access for agriculture producers and manufacturers, allowing them to better reach customers in North America. Under the new USMCA, more corn and soybeans will be sold to Mexico and Canada.
With agriculture as Illinois’ top industry, it’s easy to focus solely on our famers, but in reality, the USMCA is more than just ag. This is also about building on a record economy.
USMCA will increase US real GDP by $68.2 billion and create 176,000 U.S. jobs, according to the U.S. International Trade Commission helping manufacturers and small business.
The time is now to pass the USMCA. Delay only hurts our farmers, job creation, and our economy. With tariffs now removed, Republicans and Democrats must come to the table to pass this agreement.
The USMCA means relief to farmers, it means jobs, and it means opportunity for Americans across the board, especially those in Illinois.
The time to act is now—doing so will expand economic opportunity for the agriculture community in our state. Failing to do so, will make worse the current uncertainty our farmers are feeling.
It’s time Congress work in a bipartisan fashion to get USMCA across the finish line and support the agriculture community in Illinois.
Rep. Darin LaHood is congressman for Illinois’s 18th District. Richard Guebert is Illinois Farm Bureau president.