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Opinion: Enforcing Trump’s USMCA means prosperity for Michigan

Mark A. Morgan

Under the leadership of President Donald Trump, the United States and two of our largest trading partners — Canada and Mexico — are redefining our critical trade relationship to embrace the global economic changes that have occurred since we entered into the North American Free Trade Agreement. The USMCA is the crown jewel of the new American trade posture, which focuses on more balanced, reciprocal trade, leading to freer markets, fairer trade and robust economic growth in North America.

The USMCA is the culmination of years of negotiation among the United States, Canada and Mexico to bring our trade partnership into the 21st century. This landmark agreement modernizes our collective approach to agricultural markets, intellectual property rights protections, forced labor enforcement, rules of origin and other crucial sectors. Moreover, USMCA provides new enforcement techniques and accountability measures that will promote the appropriate use of benefits under this agreement.

The USMCA is a significant victory for the American people, Morgan writes.

The USMCA will create new American jobs, provide stronger labor protections, expand market access and generate economic opportunities. In a time of deep partisan divides, the Trump administration was able to secure bipartisan support for the USMCA in both houses of Congress. It is, in short, a significant victory for the American people and it will be a cornerstone of American prosperity for many years to come.

The International Trade Commission estimates that the USCMA will generate between 176,000 and 589,000 new American jobs. Importantly for Michigan, no sector of the economy stands to benefit from the USMCA more than the U.S. automotive industry. The USMCA is projected to generate an estimated $34 billion in new automotive manufacturing investments and 76,000 automotive industry jobs in the United States over the next five years.

By requiring that 75% of a car’s value be produced in North America, the USMCA will grow and protect America’s automotive manufacturing base. In addition, the agreement prevents the outsourcing of American automotive industry jobs by mandating that a set percentage of each vehicle is produced in factories that pay an average wage of at least $16 (USD) per hour.

The agreement expands customs authorities to protect human and agricultural health and ends certain Canadian restrictions on American dairy exports, wheat and wine products. Ending those restrictions will expand market access and create economic opportunities for farmers and vintners in Michigan who depend on agricultural exports in our neighboring markets.

The USMCA also defends U.S. businesses in other innovative ways. For example, the agreement strengthens prohibitions on the importation of goods produced using forced labor into Canada, Mexico and the United States, and encourages the three countries to cooperate on related enforcement efforts. Not only does this improve our ability to combat the evils of human trafficking and modern slavery, but it also ensures a level playing field for U.S. manufacturers.

Implementing this multifaceted, trilateral trade agreement at any time would prove challenging. To do so amidst a global pandemic only adds to the urgency and complexity of our mission. Fortunately, the men and women of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) are rising to the challenge.

Earlier this year, CBP established the USMCA Center to serve as one-stop shop for information concerning implementation efforts. Already, the center has provided free, web-based training to more than 2,000 customs brokers, trade attorneys, traders, freight forwarders and producers nationwide. CBP will continue to work closely with the trade community, other U.S. government agencies and with our Canadian and Mexican government partners to ensure the smoothest possible transition from NAFTA to the USMCA.

The dedicated employees of CBP are expert at managing borders. Even in the midst of a global public health crisis, they carry out border security and immigration laws. They also vigorously enforce over 500 laws that promote legitimate trade and protect American consumers and manufacturers on a daily basis. Under the able execution of these professionals, the USMCA will usher in a new era of American prosperity. CBP is proud to implement this major achievement of the Trump administration, to the benefit of all Americans for many generations to come.

Mark A. Morgan is the acting commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.