When most people think of Maine they immediately call to mind our beaches and lighthouses, our vast wilderness and national parks, or our fresh lobster and blueberries. Maine is home to each of those, and it is a diverse business community that creates jobs and opportunities across a number of industries. Mainers know how great our industries are, and – thanks to free trade – people all across the world are able to enjoy our made in Maine products.

The ability to trade with other nations is key to continued economic prosperity in Maine. Maine’s relationship with our Canadian neighbors is especially important since our state shares a more-than-600-mile-border with Canada. Maine – and our nation – cannot risk losing these important customers, from Canada to Mexico. That’s why Maine needs Congress to approve the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, better known as the USMCA.

The USMCA replaces the North American Free Trade Agreement, an agreement the U.S. signed with Mexico and Canada more than 25 years ago. Back then, NAFTA was key to lowering trade barriers with our North American neighbors, creating enforceable trading rules, and accessing new markets for American-made goods and services. After a quarter of a century, now is the time for an update.

The USMCA brings America’s economic relationship with Canada and Mexico into the 21st century. This new agreement strengthens NAFTA’s market-opening provisions for key industries, such as agriculture and manufacturing, and establishes a modern roadmap for digital trade across our continent.

In 2017, Maine businesses exported more than $1.5 billion worth of goods and services to Canada and Mexico, and more than 53,000 Maine jobs are supported by these trade partnerships. Combined, Canada and Mexico purchase nearly two-fifths of our state’s global manufacturing exports – Canada alone buys the vast majority of our meat products as well as our agriculture and construction machinery. The updated free-trade accord will create a level playing field for Maine exporters and protect our local workers.

The pact will also help Maine’s small businesses prosper. By establishing 21st-century rules for doing business online, small businesses will have more access to customers in Canada and Mexico, leading to more sales and higher profits. This provision is critical to Maine’s families since the majority of jobs in our state are tied to small businesses.

The USMCA also protects America’s workers, preventing Mexico from undercutting American jobs with cheap labor and requiring Mexico to implement new labor reforms. Earlier this year, Mexico did just that, passing a historic labor law demonstrating the country’s commitment to upholding strong labor standards as required under the agreement. Most importantly, these new labor provisions will keep American jobs right here in Maine after years of watching jobs move overseas. The USMCA puts American jobs and American workers first.

Bipartisan support is growing steadily for the USMCA, and the Trump administration is working hard with members of both parties to get this deal done. It’s clear that the USMCA is a good deal for Mainers and the American people. It’s time for Congress to put politics aside, put us first and pass the USMCA.

 


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