USCMA gets final Senate approval, awaits president’s signature

By: - January 16, 2020 1:03 pm
Iowa farm with barn, silo and tractor

Farmers could use an expanded federal loan program to pay rent under legislation proposed July 16. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The U.S. Senate overwhelmingly approved the U.S.-Canada-Mexico Agreement Thursday, sending the historic pact to President Trump for his signature.

The agreement, which replaces the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) but has some similarities to it, is big news in Iowa. Canada and Mexico are the top markets  for Iowa goods and commodities.

Gov. Kim Reynolds, one of Trump’s GOP allies in Iowa — the nation’s top producer of corn, eggs and pork — said the agreement is key for U.S. trade.

“Iowa and the entire nation will reap the benefits of USMCA for years to come,” Reynolds said in a statement. “Mexico and Canada are Iowa’s top two trading partners and a strong trade relationship is critical for the entire economy.

“I believe USMCA is a strong, balanced, and modern trade agreement that will create opportunities for Iowa families, farmers, manufacturers, and small businesses by expanding markets for our world-class exports,” Reynolds added.

The governor noted that the pact with the United States’ closest trade partners comes as the trade outlook in Japan and China brightens. ” I look forward to working with President Trump to promote and expand markets for Iowa’s world-class products,” Reynolds said.

Joe Murphy, executive director of the Iowa Business Council, said his organization representing Iowa’s largest employers welcomed the bipartisan support for the agreement. The Senate approved the pact, 89-10.

“We are extremely pleased the Senate has passed the USMCA in a strong bipartisan fashion. This updated trade agreement will allow for increased market access for agriculture, better oversight for critical areas like digital trade, labor, the environment and intellectual property,” Murphy said in a statement. “… The USMCA will not only create a better trade environment, but will help lift wages, improve the rule of law, stabilize the market and boost our economic output.”

U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said a key was drawing the support of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO, and a bipartisan coalition. “Getting the Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO to both endorse this trade deal was no easy feat, and it took both sides’ good faith efforts to get us here,” Grassley wrote in a note of congratulations to his team and others.

“You’ve heard me extol all the good that USMCA will do for this nation’s farmers, ranchers, manufacturers and workers of all stripes,” Grassley wrote. “Hundreds of thousands of jobs, billions of dollars added to the economy, new market access and a framework for the future of international trade.”

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