WASHINGTON – Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley urged bipartisan cooperation to ensure swift passage of the Trump’s administration’s NAFTA overhaul agreement.
“Every day that passes is another day that the benefits of the USMCA go unrealized. Trying to reopen the whole of UMSCA could risk unraveling the deal altogether, which is to nobody’s benefit,” Grassley (R-Iowa) said at a hearing on Tuesday.
He added: “I therefore urge House Democrats and [U.S. Trade] Ambassador [Robert] Lighthizer to focus on their specific concerns and to propose solutions in short order, so that we can pass UMSCA.”
Ranking Member Sen. Ron Wyden said he has some concerns about the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.
“Passing a trade deal that would allow this president to unilaterally change trade rules and jerk around entire industries would be a dangerous mistake that promotes uncertainty. That’s not how you get trade done right,” Wyden (D-Ore.) said.
Wyden proceeded to refer to the agreement as “NAFTA 2.0.”
The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement aims to create more a level playing field in trade between the three nations and is part of President Donald Trump’s campaign pledge to protect American manufacturing jobs from being outsourced.
Under the agreement, 75% of U.S. auto content must be made by American automobile manufacturers and 40 to 45% of the automobiles manufactured in North America must be made by workers who are paid at least $16 per hour.
The agreement would reduce import prices on dairy products to allow Canadians to have greater access to U.S. markets. It bolsters intellectual property rights by allowing Canada and Mexico to extend copyright protections on medical products such as vaccines.
USMCA was signed on Nov. 30, 2018. Mexico ratified the agreement in June. The U.S. and Canada have yet to approve it.
The North American Free Trade Agreement was brokered by the Clinton administration. It went into effect in January 1994.
Critics of NAFTA say it harmed America’s manufacturing base by outsourcing manufacturing jobs.