Business community urges swift vote, bipartisan support
PHOENIX (December 10, 2019)—The Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry today applauded United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and congressional leaders following the announcement that the two sides have reached an agreement over the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA, setting the stage for a vote by the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.
The Chamber has been the Arizona business community’s most vocal and active supporter of the USMCA, which modernizes several elements of the existing trinational trade agreement between the three North American countries. Arizona Chamber President and CEO Glenn Hamer has made several visits to Mexico for high-level meetings on the agreement with leading figures within Mexico’s executive and legislative branches, and he’s met with Ambassador Lighthizer and other administration officials responsible for negotiations.
“Ambassador Lighthizer, Mexican Deputy Foreign Minister Jesus Seade and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi deserve a lot of credit for working diligently over the last several weeks to iron out the last remaining details on the best trade agreement the U.S. has ever negotiated,” Hamer said. “Once the USMCA is implemented, no state is as well positioned for economic growth like Arizona, which, according to research compiled by the Arizona Chamber, Arizona-Mexico Commission, and Arizona Chamber Foundation, already can credit an estimated 228,000 jobs to trade with Mexico and Canada. The Arizona Chamber is proud to have played such a positive role on behalf of Arizona’s job creators in seeing this agreement through to this historic day.”
Earlier this fall, skepticism was growing over the fate of USMCA, but, Hamer says, Ambassador Lighthizer proved to be a superb negotiator.
“Many critics questioned whether reaching a bipartisan consensus on something as thorny as international trade in today’s political environment was even possible,” Hamer said. “But Ambassador Lighthizer proved to be absolutely indispensable throughout this entire process. The U.S. and Arizona business communities are so thankful for his outstanding work. He should be very proud of what he’s accomplished.”
The U.S. House must vote to implement the agreement, followed by the U.S. Senate.
“On behalf of Arizona’s job creators whose supply chains and customers span North American borders, I would urge Speaker Pelosi to schedule a vote on the agreement as soon as possible,” Hamer said. “And just as was the case over 25 years ago when NAFTA was voted on, I would urge every member of Arizona’s congressional delegation to vote to support USMCA; it’s the right thing for the country and the right thing for Arizona.”
Hamer said many Arizonans deserve credit for the agreement that was reached.
“The original North American Free Trade Agreement dating back a quarter-century ago was made possible in no small part because of the tremendous contributions of one Arizonan: former congressman Jim Kolbe. Twenty-five years later, several Arizonans are responsible for this new agreement, which will set the standard for future trade accords in the decades to come.
“No governor has been as committed to the passage of USMCA like Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey. His entire team, which includes Arizona-Mexico Commission President Jessica Pacheco, AMC Executive Director Juan Ciscomani, and special adviser Luis Ramírez, has been relentless in its pursuit of adoption of this groundbreaking agreement.
“On Capitol Hill, members of the Arizona congressional delegation have distinguished themselves. Rep. Greg Stanton has been a leader within his caucus for the USMCA, urging his colleagues to set partisanship aside and to support the deal that will ensure that the North American trading bloc remains the globe’s most competitive.
“Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Martha McSally deserve tremendous credit for not only advocating for the preservation of tariff-free trade, but for working to ensure that the best deal was struck on behalf of Arizona by successfully persuading negotiators to exclude from the package any new agricultural seasonality provisions, which would have harmed Arizona’s fresh produce import industry. The senators’ work builds on the legacy of the two senators who preceded them—John McCain and Jeff Flake—who were both staunch advocates for a modernized free trade agreement that protected Arizona’s interests.
“The advocacy for USMCA has also been positively impacted at a city level, too. Rep. Stanton during his time as mayor conducted 18 trade missions to Mexico, and he presided over the opening of trade offices in Mexico City and Hermosillo. Phoenix’s positive relationship with Mexico today is in large part because of his work and that of the firm of Molera-Alvarez, its principals Jaime Molera and Ruben Alvarez, and José Andrés Garcia, all of whom expertly managed the city’s trade offices in Mexico and continue to help businesses in Arizona with our largest trading partner.
“The broader American business community has been incredibly active throughout the entire USMCA process. The U.S. Chamber and the National Association of Manufacturers, especially, deserve credit for remaining consistent in their advocacy for USMCA, despite occasional headwinds and distractions. Both groups demonstrated why they’re so valued by their members and by job creators across the country.”
# # #
The Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry is committed to advancing Arizona’s competitive position in the global economy by advocating free-market policies that stimulate economic growth and prosperity for all Arizonans.