by Todd DeFeo
The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) will benefit Ohio’s economy, and Congress should proceed with ratifying the deal, the state’s lieutenant governor said in a letter to federal officials urging them to act.
Lt. Gov. Jon Husted sent a letter to members of Ohio’s congressional delegation expressing his support for the trade deal and urging them to ratify the agreement this year. He also sent the letter to President Donald Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California.
Canada and Mexico are Ohio’s two biggest export markets, accounting for more than 51 percent of the state’s total exports, Husted said in his letter. In 2018, Ohio sent $21 billion in goods to Canada and nearly $7 billion to Mexico.
“It is necessary that the United States implement an updated trade agreement with Mexico and Canada to reflect the dramatic technological changes that have occurred since ratification of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA),” Husted wrote. “The new agreement will better serve the interests of American innovators, workers, farmers and job creators. Mutually beneficial trade leads to freer markets, fairer trade, and greater economic growth in the United States and across North America.”
Once ratified, the agreement replaces the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which has been in place since 1994. Trump has repeatedly lambasted NAFTA and campaigned on replacing it.
Husted serves as director of InnovateOhio, an initiative that aims to establish Ohio as innovative and creative in a bid to help officials attract new jobs.
“Ohioans are known as people who build and create great things, producing everything from vehicles and aircraft to computers and appliances,” Husted wrote. “Of course, Ohio is also a great agriculture state as we export a variety of products from soybeans to poultry. The USMCA will deliver important improvements to secure greater market access for American and Ohio farmers.”
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, has called on Trump to work with him to guarantee anti-outsourcing rules in USMCA are followed. Brown cited an International Trade Commission (ITC) report that found “the USMCA labor provisions are expected to promote higher wages and improved labor conditions in member markets if these provisions are enforced.”
Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, told Fox Business’ Neil Cavuto last week Congress should proceed with finalizing the deal.
“I think it’s a good agreement,” Portman told the outlet. “It’s going to add hundreds of thousands of new jobs. It updates a 26-year-old agreement, NAFTA, that has to be improved. This is a great victory for the president.”
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Todd DeFeo is a contributor to The Center Square.