In an overwhelming 89 to 10 vote, the Senate has approved a sweeping new trade agreement between the United States, Mexico, and Canada.
The USMCA will replace the North American Free Trade Agreement of 1994, and is designed to increase both the amount of steel and aluminum traveling between the U.S. and Mexico, as well as dairy imports into Canada.
The Senate vote comes after the leaders of all three countries in late 2018 gave their signatures to the document.
The agreement is seen by many as a victory for the U.S. construction industry, notes the Associated General Contractors of America, because it will “help ensure that trade impacting the construction industry supply chain remains free, fair, and certain.”
In a letter from James Christianson, vice-president for government relations with the AGC, to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell before the historic vote, it was noted that the U.S. construction industry is “dependent on a consistent and predictable supply of construction materials."
Christianson went on to note that such materials are “used in a wide variety of construction projects,” and will prove critical should Congress also pass comprehensive infrastructure rebuilding legislation.
The agreement will also allow for the continued export of materials and products from the U.S. to both Mexico and Canada, markets that together make up 40 percent of all trade between the U.S. and the rest of the world, with a value of nearly $1.4 trillion.
In a statement, Thomas Donahue, chief executive officer of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, noted that the new trade agreement’s “updated rules on digital trade, non-tariff barriers, and services promise real benefits to American businesses and consumers.”
A report issued earlier last year by the Center for Strategic and International Studies has forecast that overall exports from the U.S. to both Mexico and Canada are expected to grow by up to 6.7 percent as a result of the agreement, with imports from those two countries slated to increase by nearly 5 percent.
Among the Senators who voted against the final version of the USMCA was Vermont’s Bernie Sanders, who said the agreement included “not one reference to the world’s climate change.”
Sanders continued: “Here you have a major trade agreement which in fact will make it easier for the large oil companies to destroy our planet.”
By Garry Boulard
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