The Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry on Monday welcomed Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner as our keynote speaker at our annual Update from Capitol Hill Luncheon. We were also fortunate to be joined by Minnesota Rep. Erik Paulsen and Arizona’s own Rep. David Schweikert, both of whom are members of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee for a conversation on their portfolio of issues.
What do they all have in common? All three bring an optimistic outlook and sunny disposition to some of America’s toughest challenges. Think of them as principled, happy warriors on behalf of Americna job creators. They’re future-focused. When they say that they believe America’s best days are ahead, you believe them.
Sen. Gardner spoke of the desperate need for the U.S. to take a leadership role in the world. On military affairs, diplomacy, and trade, the U.S. is the indispensable country.
Rep. Paulsen and Rep. Schweikert touched on the need to ensure our regulatory climate encourages the growth of new technologies to improve Americans’ quality of life in areas ranging from health care to financial services.
And all three are firm in their belief that we must modernize the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Whether you hail from Colorado, Minnesota, or Arizona, NAFTA has lowered barriers to market entry in Mexico and Canada, it’s enhanced your manufacturers’ supply chains, bent the cost curve, and increased variety and quality for your consumers.
The three NAFTA nations are in the midst of negotiations to bring the nearly 25-year-old agreement into the 21st century. As Sen. Gardner pointed out, NAFTA was negotiated pre-iPhone, when few could have guessed the impact e-commerce would have on global logistics and commerce, so agreement needs an update.
What we can’t let happen, however, is for the agreement to collapse under the weight of anti-trade rhetoric or petty disagreements between negotiators. Our three-nation supply chains are incredibly interconnected, with component parts zipping back and forth across international borders before they become finished products in industries ranging from consumer electronics, to aerospace, medical devices, automobiles, and more. Unwinding that interconnectivity would cause prices to soar and jobs to be lost.
Arizona’s leaders get it. Gov. Doug Ducey has the model binational relationship with his Sonoran counterpart, Gov. Claudia Pavlovich. Both are united in their pursuit of increased cross-border cooperation, and few their respective states’ geographic locations as tremendous assets.
The chair and co-chair of the state House Local and International Affairs Committee, Rep. Tony Rivero and Rep. Rosanna Gabaldon, led a bipartisan delegation of lawmakers to Mexico City and Guanajuato last year to get an up-close look at how Arizona and Mexico’s economic success is intertwined.
And the state House and Senate are speaking with one voice on NAFTA’s importance. Sen. Bob Worsley introduced SCM 1016, a memorial from the state Legislature to Congress that makes clear that Arizona’s lawmakers believe a modernized NAFTA is essential. Following its unanimous
adoption in the Senate, Rep. Todd Clodfelter on Tuesday read the memorial on the House floor, where it was also unanimously supported before being transmitted to the secretary of state in order for it to be sent to Congress.
The memorial language gives members of Congress and quick look at why NAFTA is so critical for Arizona, such as our state’s $15.7 billion combined trade with Mexico in 2016, or our $3.5 billion in combined trade with Canada for that same year; or the $5 billion in annual economic activity in Arizona derived from Canadian and Mexican visitors.
The current tax and regulatory environment has done tremendous good for America’s job creators. A new NAFTA will be like a shot of economic espresso. From Arizona, to Colorado, to Minnesota, from state capitols to Capitol Hill, leaders of both parties recognize that without a modernized NAFTA, our economy will suffer. We won’t let that happen.