Opinion: Join Mexico and Canada in the push for NAFTA 2.0

Lew Dodak
President Donald Trump meets with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the Oval Office of the White House, Thursday, June 20, 2019, in Washington.

Over the past week, there are been positive developments with the modernization of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), but unfortunately the United States was not a part of them. Mexico has officially ratified the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with President Donald Trump and congressional leaders to lobby for the swift passage of the deal.

The USMCA is vital for farmers and businesses of all sizes across Michigan, and we need our Representatives in D.C. to urge Speaker Nancy Pelosi to bring this to a vote this summer so that we can begin to experience the benefits of this modernized trade deal.

This should not be seen as a partisan issue, every member of Congress represents business owners who will benefit from the USMCA. Congressmen ought to advocate strongly for this agreement.

As the former speaker of the House here in Michigan, I have seen how important our economic relationship is with Mexico and Canada. So many of our businesses rely on the markets in those countries across nearly all industries. In 2017, we exported over $37 billion worth of goods and services to Mexico and Canada. While a large percentage of that trade is represented by the auto industry, this deal is also critically important for farmers.

I have been involved with the farming industry my entire life. As time goes on, access to international markets have become more and more important. In Michigan, 22,800 jobs are supported by agricultural trade with Mexico and Canada, which amounts to nearly $3 billion in exports annually.

President Donald Trump, Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, right,  and Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto, left, participate in the USMCA signing ceremony, Friday, Nov. 30, 2018 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

At a time when trade wars are the norm and it is hard to keep the doors open for family farmers across the country, the USMCA represents optimism for our hard working farmers. It will strengthen our fruitful partnership with our neighbors to the north and south and will undoubtedly increase agricultural trade.

Our representatives need to listen to all of the businesses that are pushing for the USMCA and get this deal done. There is no state more reliant on trade than Michigan. Global trade supports 1.1 million jobs across the state, and trade with Canada and Mexico supports 338,300 jobs in Michigan. Our business owners and workers will suffer the most if the administration pulls out of NAFTA and the USMCA is not passed.

Both Mexico and Canada recognize the importance of our trilateral relationship. Trade between our nations boomed under NAFTA, and now we must protect it. Our elected officials cannot play games with our trading relationships. Their constituents are eager to see the USMCA ratified this summer. Congress needs to get to work and come together to deliver for the businesses and workers across the country. There is no excuse for the delay; pass USMCA as soon as possible. 

Lew Dodak is the former speaker of the Michigan House of Representatives.