Saturday, February 04, 2023

This year, we celebrated Independence Day with a fair trade deal

| July 24, 2020 9:27 AM

Fireworks! Jobs! A stronger economy! This year, we celebrated a great trade treaty as well as the birth of the United States of America. President Donald Trump promised improvement on the old North American Free Trade Agreement — and he delivered.

Implementation of United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the new trade treaty with our neighbors, began July 1, shortly before the 244th anniversary of our Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.

I am proud of both achievements. I grew a dark brown beard for our nation’s bicentennial birthday. If I grew a beard today, it would be fully white.

As a young working man, I complained about the old NAFTA. I later had the honor to contribute to USMCA as a Montana state senator and president of Pacific NorthWest Economic Region, an association of legislators from Canada and the U.S.

USMCA is much improved and modernized. Agriculture benefits from the agreement in many ways. For Montana farmers shipping wheat north, USMCA equalizes pricing with Canadian grain and eliminates country origination labeling.

I just finished a White House phone conference where C.J. Mahoney, U.S. Trade Relations director, provided exciting details that took effect July 1, 2020. He predicts 80,000 new jobs.

It is the largest trade deal we have, with a value of $1.5 trillion. USMCA lays a stronger foundation for North American trade long into the future. The new set of rules covers technology, digital and intellectual property, and imposes strong labor rules for fair competition with Mexican manufacturers.

Exciting things for the younger generation and the older union craftsmen I once worked alongside. It means greater stability of economies from auto manufacturing to tourism and recreation, especially in border communities across Montana.

Thank you to U.S. Sen. Steve Daines and U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte for helping this landmark legislation through swampy Washington, D.C.

The author is a state senator and president of PNWER, an international association of legislators.