LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Did we even gain anything?

Published 8:34 am Monday, March 2, 2020

During his 2016 campaign, Donald Trump criticized the North American Free Trade Agreement as “the worst trade deal ever” and promised a vastly better agreement.

After three years of negotiations, a slightly revised deal — the U.S., Mexico and Canada Agreement — was agreed to.

The Democratic-controlled House refused to approve the USMCA until stronger protections were added for labor rights and a giveaway was removed for the pharmaceutical industry, which would have allowed them a 10-year protection from less expensive generic biologic drugs.

The final USMCA has a few advantages:

• Autos sold here require 75 percent of components manufactured in North America, up from NAFTA’s 62.5 percent requirement.

• U.S. farmers gain more access to the Canadian dairy market.

• 40 percent of vehicles sold here must originate where workers earn at least $16 an hour.

• Mexico must allow workers to form unions which in the long run makes U.S. jobs more competitive by increasing wages in Mexico.

These advantages are real, but overall, we didn’t gain much from the USMCA. Why?

• The International Trade Commission calculated the USMCA would add only 176,000 jobs over six years, a small number within the US $22 Trillion economy supporting 152 million nonfarm jobs.

• Auto makers have continued to downsize and move jobs to Mexico even after the law was signed so hundreds of thousands of jobs will not return here as Trump has touted.

• USMCA allows food imports that don’t meet US safety standards.

• USMCA doesn’t establish liability standards for counterfeit products.

• USMCA will probably increase car prices for the average U.S. consumer.

Three years of Trump threatening Canada and Mexico doesn’t give us much more than we had with NAFTA. It’s time the administration starts negotiating trade deals that actually benefit U.S. workers and consumers, rather than attempting to give Trump a political advantage.

Ken Peterson