FOREST AND EVETTE: Congress should pass USMCA

Lieutenant Governors of North and South Carolina urge Congress to pass trade deal

Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest poses for a portrait in his office in the Hawkins-Hartness House on Wednesday, May 17, 2017.

For months, our two states and the nation have debated our country’s proposed new trade deal, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).  While there is always a give and take when it comes to negotiations, what both North and South Carolinians need to know is that this deal is a win for our region. It creates a level playing field for all businesses and encourages free and fair trade. USMCA will modernize our trade relationships to support a 21st-century economy that is ever-changing and rapidly evolving.  As lieutenant governors, one of our main responsibilities is to promote economic growth, and under the new provisions negotiated in the USMCA, the agreement will greatly benefit our states and improve trade conditions for our business communities.

Pamela_Evette_SC LTGOV_
South Carolina Lt. Governor Pamela Evette

After nearly a quarter century of broken promises by Washington, our nation’s unbalanced and out-of-date trade deals have left American workers, manufacturers, and farmers at a distinct economic disadvantage. Unlike the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the USMCA incentivizes American manufacturing, expands market access for American agricultural products, protects the intellectual property of American innovators, cuts red tape for small businesses, and ensures that our trading partners follow enforceable and reasonable environmental standards.

Many farmers in both of our states benefitted under NAFTA, but this agreement improves upon the previous trade deal by continuing to expand the list of exportable agricultural goods, while preventing other countries from undercutting our markets and ending discriminatory treatment of U.S. products abroad.  This renegotiation will additionally encourage and enhance the vehicle, aviation and auto parts export market for North and South Carolina by reducing the administrative burden on vehicle and parts producers and encouraging more domestic investment.

Mexico and Canada are the top two destinations for the export of goods for small to medium enterprises (SMEs).  For the first time in a United States trade agreement, the USMCA specifically outlines how American SMEs can engage and prosper in international trade through information-sharing tools and decreased onerous red tape.  It will bring more predictability to cross-border transactions while promoting enhanced accountability and transparency in the promulgation of regulations.

Trade deals in the past have disproportionately affected workers, farmers, and manufacturers. For far too long, our nation has allowed these bad deals to ignore the interests of our citizens.

That changes with USMCA.  This agreement is focused around protecting the interests of North and South Carolinians, as well as bringing back family-supporting jobs.  We believe the USMCA deal provides American workers and farmers with the necessary protections and framework for robust economic growth in the 21st century.

We urge our members of Congress to pass this trade deal as soon as they come back from their August recess.  Economic prosperity must take precedence over partisan politics. This is a win – not only for our region, but for our entire country.