The importance of USMCA to the produce industry

The U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement that sits on President Trumps desk ready to be signed means more than just free trade to produce companies.

“Trade isn’t just about good crossing borders,” said International trade expert Devry Boughner Vorwerk, CEO of DevryBV Sustainable Strategies. “It’s also about services and capital.”

She said the trade agreement is a huge win for produce companies who can invest in their businesses in any of the three countries and know there will be a stable supply chain.

USMCA is a big enough winner in the United States that it didn’t fall to politics, as did the Trans Pacific Partnership a couple years ago. President Obama’s administration negotiated the deal with 11 other countries but many in Congress didn’t support it, and most presidential candidates of both parties ran against it in the 2016 presidential election.

Mexico remained in it, as it is now called the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) or TPP-11, which includes the original signatories of TPP minus the United States.

“Mexico has huge relationships with the U.S., but now it has agreements with Asian countries through CPTPP,” Boughner Vorwerk said.

The Senate passed USMCA by a vote of 89-10 last week after it passed 385-41 in the House in December.

Ten Senators voted against USMCA, including presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, I-VT, Minority leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY, several senators who ran for president, and Pat Toomey, R-PA.

Toomey said the trade deal is a bad one and will diminish trade. The Democrats who voted against USMCA mostly cited environmental reasons.

Boughner Vorwerk said there is always a minority of Congress members who are against free trade agreements either because of their political philosophy or lack of knowledge of the importance of free trade.

“As it relates to this agreement, both [political parties] understood that if it unraveled, we’d see massive economic harm in the U.S., and neither of them would want responsibility for that,” she said.

Greg Johnson is Director of Media Development for Blue Book Services