NCBA's Kent Bacus Digs Into the Details of the USMCA DealFri, 13 Dec 2019 11:25:52 CST
Lots of excitement in the agricultural community about the possible USMCA deal between house Democrats the Trump Administration. They have gotten the Mexican Government to go along with changes demanded by Speaker Nancy Pelosi doing the bidding of the AFL-CIO and others.
Kent Bacus, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association's Director of International Trade and Market Access, says we've been plowing this same patch of ground for quite a while now, "You know this is something that's been in the works for quite a long time. We've been actively engaged with our Government to make sure that all of those good terms that have benefited the U.S. beef industry under NAFTA continue through this new agreement, so we know that that'll be the case. The big thing about this is that the democrats weren't big fans of the agreement that was originally negotiated. There were things that they wanted to see with pharmaceuticals, with labor, with enforcement, some of the environmental things, all of these are big pushes that they wanted to see included. So there's been ongoing negotiations between the House Democrats and Bob Lighthizer, the trade ambassador to try to find a path forward. Well, they were able to put all that into a new text. That text had to be agreed to between Canada and Mexico as well.
"So yesterday, while the speaker was having this press conference, our trade negotiator was on a plane to Mexico City to sign the new text with the Canadians and the Mexicans, and so now we're going forward with the ratification process. Now that will start in the house. They were hoping that that will start as early as next week, so the house will have to introduce that bill, it'll come through Ways and Means Committee, then go to the house floor for consideration, and then once it's approved there, it'll go to the Senate. The Senate finance committee will get his hands on it, and then the full Senate will vote on this. It's important to remember that under the Trade Promotion Authority, this is a straight-up or down vote. Congress can't amend this. So this long consultation process that's been ongoing for months, and plus the fact that the text of USMCA has been out there for almost a year and so members of Congress been able to read this, been able to voice their concerns, raise questions and then all of those concerns have been addressed now. So we think that this will pass.
"We think they'll be a few people who will still find reasons to oppose it the buy large we think this will pass the house. The important thing is that we get it moving. A lot of hard work has been done but the hardest part still ahead of us. Trade bills do not pass easily in Congress, they usually passed by a handful of votes, and that's why we need everyone to engage with their members of Congress, with both of the house and the Senate we need this to happen very soon. Because with everything else that's in play with the spending bills with impeachment all these other things, it's really easy to put USMCA on the back burner. We can't. This has to be a top priority issue, this is something that has to move forward, and we are very confident that once that process starts that it will be successful through the end. Hopefully, we can have this wrapped up by the end of the year or if necessary, the beginning of next year."
Kent Bacus says one other thing that USMCA is, is a very important symbol that shows to the rest of the world we're open for business, "That's exactly right — passing the U.S/ Mexico/Canada agreement sends the message to the rest of the world that we have a Unified Government. That the executive branch can negotiate and can negotiate in good faith with our trade partners, knowing that Congress will support that decision. This shows that we don't have a government at odds with each other. That we have a government that, while they may be from different factions, different parties, they are united on trying to advance the U.S. economy. That sends a message to the rest of the world that the United States is open for business, for us beef producers that's very important because we need better access to a lot of these are the markets. Every single one of our major competitors are out there securing better Market access to the same markets that are very good for U.S. beef. So we have to continue to focus on opening these markets and January is going to be a good time for us. We'll have the E.U. agreement going into effect, we'll have the Japan agreement going to affect, hopefully, we'll have USMCA behind us, but there are other markets we need to focus on it we need to send that positive message to the rest of the world."
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