Rep. McBath silent on USMCA trade deal; Georgia Chamber urges ratification

While Rep. Lucy McBath (D-Ga.) did not respond to requests for comment about the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which this week was ratified by Mexico, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce is urging its ratification.

The USMCA still has to be ratified by Canada’s Parliament as well as lawmakers in the U.S. Congress. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, American Farm Bureau Federation and free-trade supporters have called for its ratification.

President Donald Trump recently met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to discuss the status of the agreement, which updates NAFTA’s provisions on issues such as labor and environmental regulations, copyright provisions and domestic component rules for automobiles.

Supporters say USMCA will be an improvement over NAFTA and will expand markets for U.S. manufacturers.

Rep. Lucy McBath (D-Ga.)  

The agreement will require cars to have three-quarters of their components manufactured in either the U.S., Canada or Mexico in order to avoid tariffs. That’s up from 62.5 percent under the previous accord. And between 40 and 45 percent of auto parts must be manufactured by workers making $16 per hour or more under the USMCA.

U.S. dairy farmers will also gain greater access to Canadian markets, and copyright terms will be in place for 70 years instead of the 50 years provided in NAFTA.

If ratified by all three nations, USMCA would remain in effect for 16 years under a sunset clause.

Jason O'Rouke, vice president of public policy and federal affairs with the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, said the state arm of the organization is involved in a nationwide push by state and local chambers to lobby for congressional ratification of the agreement.

O'Rouke said the agreement modernizes NAFTA, with its provisions on advances in global and advanced manufacturing, which are central to Georgia's economy and future growth.

"The supply chain moves back and forth, an automobile may be finished in Atlanta , but a lot of those parts come from Mexico, some from Canada," O'Rouke told Georgia Business Daily. "It is so interconnected, and we must have trade agreements."

O'Rouke said the biggest impact will be on advanced manufacturing and the hub communities such as the Atlanta metropolitan area, but also Savannah, Columbus and Macon, where car manufacturers and aerospace companies are based.

He did caution that Georgia farmers and state agriculture will face the biggest challenges under this agreement, but these have existed for some time.

"It is an economic reality that Mexico is producing a lot more cucumbers and avocados, for example, and Georgia is not able to compete," O'Rouke said, adding that the chamber's agricultural partners have raised concerns there is not enough in the deal to support them.

The Georgia Chamber of Commerce is urging Democrats in the House to back the agreement, with O'Rouke hoping it does not become mired in partisan political arguments

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