Published on: December 11, 2019
The Washington Post
reports that President Trump has secured his first major trade deal, the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which most call the 'USMCA' or 'NAFTA 2.0.'
"Nearly everyone is claiming it’s a political and economic victory for them. Democrats give it a thumbs up. Some union leaders give it a thumbs up. So do Mexican and Canadian officials. Many business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable and the Farm Bureau, are also applauding it.
"The deal is an update of the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement that eliminated nearly all tariffs on goods traded between the three nations. The USMCA made two big revisions to the prior agreement: First, it updates a lot of provisions around intellectual property, pharmaceuticals and the digital economy. Second, it includes more environmental and labor protections."
A number of trade groups reacted positively. But, as The Hill
reports, they may have to wait to celebrate, since the US Senate does not plan to debate the treaty any time soon:
"Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on Tuesday that the Senate will not take up President Trump’s trade deal with Canada and Mexico before the end of the year.
"McConnell, outlining the to-do list for the chamber before senators leave for Christmas, said the trade deal was not on the list. He also said the Senate was unlikely to vote on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) until after an expected impeachment trial for Trump … His announcement comes hours after Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced she had reached an agreement with the White House on the trade deal.
The story makes the point that "McConnell has repeatedly hammered House Democrats for not taking up USMCA, a top priority for Republicans and the White House.
McConnell doesn't even seem particularly happy with the bill. “From my perspective, it’s not as good as I had hoped," he tells The Hill
Some of the trade associations lauding the bill have lobbying arms, so it seems likely that they will be applying some pressure to US Senators that will reflect statements they released today.
• From the Food Marketing Institute (FMI):
"We are extremely encouraged by today’s announcement that congressional leaders and the Trump administration have reached agreement on several outstanding issues and will now move forward with a vote on the USMCA.
“The USMCA improves NAFTA by modernizing it for the 21st century and securing the gains of the last 25 years for future generations. Areas like biotechnology and ecommerce –which were in their infancy when the original deal was negotiated – are addressed, as are science-based food safety standards that reflect the growth of knowledge in the field.
“This new North American trade agreement maintains and secures the existing supply chain, resulting in continued growth in U.S. food and beverage exports. The USMCA supports U.S. jobs and enables grocers to keep feeding families and enriching the lives of American consumers.
“Progress on the USMCA would not have been possible without the Trump administration and the House Democratic leaderships’ focus and collaboration to create an updated and comprehensive USMCA that works for all parties. We greatly appreciate their efforts, as well as those of Senate leadership and our partners in Canada and Mexico.
“FMI and the food retail and wholesale industry look forward to reviewing the finalized details of the USMCA and working with House and Senate leaders to successfully pass this bipartisan new trade deal, ideally before the end of the year.”
• From the National Grocers Association (NGA):
“NGA is pleased House leadership plans to vote on an agreement that encourages free trade and the imports of vital products sold in independent supermarkets. Main Street Grocers are the backbone of communities across the country, providing quality products at an affordable price and creating close to 1 million jobs. USMCA ensures grocers can keep shelves stocked with desirable items like fresh produce. We strongly encourage Congress to vote yes on USMCA so that grocers can head into 2020 with the certainty necessary to continue serving their customers.”
• And from the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), which will become the Consumer Brands Association (CBA) in the New Year:
“The consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry is encouraged by the latest USMCA negotiations and hopes the announced deal will lead to swift congressional ratification of this important multilateral trade agreement. Under NAFTA, the CPG industry thrived and now contributes $2 trillion and 20 million jobs to the U.S. economy — and we anticipate continued growth and success for the industry under USMCA. Strong relationships with key trading partners are essential to our ability to provide Americans with the safe, affordable, high-quality products they enjoy every day.”