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U.S. rep praises trade deal

U.S. Rep. Dr. Ralph Abraham, R-La., welcomed the passage of the USMCA (U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement) trade deal Thursday afternoon, and declared it a win for American families and businesses.

“After more than a year since President Trump struck this historic trade deal with Canada and Mexico, the House has finally passed USMCA,” Abraham said. “It is absolutely unthinkable that Speaker Pelosi held it hostage for so long in pursuit of her partisan impeachment crusade against President Trump.

“This is yet another example of her abuse of power and I continue to call for her removal as Speaker of the House,” Abraham said. “The loss of income for our nation’s and state’s businesses over the past year is nothing short of legislative malpractice on her part. I want to thank President Trump for his persistence and vision in negotiating this great deal for the hard working men and women of America.”

The House of Representatives passed the USMCA by a bipartisan vote of 385-41. It is intended to replace NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement).

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said that USMCA would advance agricultural interests in two of the most important international markets for American farmers, ranchers, and agribusinesses.

“This high-standard agreement builds upon our existing markets to expand United States food and agricultural exports and support food processing and rural jobs,” Perdue said.

All food and agricultural products that have zero tariffs under NAFTA will remain at zero tariffs. Since the original NAFTA did not eliminate all tariffs on agricultural trade between the United States and Canada, the USMCA will create new market access opportunities for United States exports to Canada of dairy, poultry, and eggs, and in exchange the United States will provide new access to Canada for some dairy, peanut, and a limited amount of sugar and sugar-containing products.

Some of the other provisions of USMCA include:

  • America’s dairy farmers will have expanded market opportunities in Canada for a wide variety of dairy products. Canada agreed to eliminate the unfair Class 6 and 7 milk pricing programs that allowed their farmers to undersell U.S. producers.
  • For the first time, the agreement specifically addresses agricultural biotechnology — including new technologies such as gene editing — to support innovation and reduce trade-distorting policies.
  • The agreement institutes a more rigorous process for establishing geographical indicators and lays out additional factors to be considered in determining whether a term is a common name.
  • The three countries agree to strengthen disciplines for science-based measures that protect human, animal, and plant health while improving the flow of trade.
  • U.S. poultry producers will have expanded access to Canada for chicken, turkey, and eggs.
  • Canada agrees to terminate its discriminatory wheat grading system, enabling U.S. growers to be more competitive.
  • The three countries agree to avoid technical barriers to trade through non-discrimination and transparency regarding sale, distribution, labeling, and certification of wine and distilled spirits.

It is expected that the Senate will also pass USMCA sometime in early 2020, and President Donald Trump will then sign it into law.