I had the honor of attending the discussion at the White House on the U.S Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA) recently. In attendance were Hispanic leaders from across the nation, and the Mexican ambassador to the United States, Martha Barcena. The focal point of the event was a panel discussion where the president of the United States Hispanic Chamber, Ramiro Cavazos, the president of the Latino Coalition, Hector Bareto Jr., and Mario Rodriguez representing the Hispanic 100 spoke about the negative impact that failing to pass the USMCA would have on their respective business members.
Attendees were overwhelmingly in support of the agreement and fully understood that more than 5 million jobs in the United States depended on trade between our three countries. The conversation was centered on what our next steps may be. Tim Pataki, the deputy assistant to the president, addressed the political reality and the need to ratify the agreement before Congress recessed this summer.
The conclusion was that it was time to look beyond partisan politics and to implore congressional members in every state to take action. The USMCA is the most advanced agreement in terms of manufacturing and labor rights, and passing it will help our three countries continue to build our global competitive region. Ambassador Barcena spoke passionately about focusing on the economic prosperity of our region when it passes and warned that if it were to fail – it would be the biggest setback for our three countries in decades.
Locally, we’ve heard the data. The latest numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau indicate Arizona had $20.4 billion in total trade with USMCA markets in 2018, and per the North American Research Partnership and the Crossborder Group there were an estimated 228,300 net jobs in Arizona that resulted from trade with Canada and Mexico in 2017. For Arizona, congressional support should be a foregone conclusion, but unfortunately it is not. Businesses on both sides of the border are fearful that the partisan debate on the agreement and the focus of “winning and losing” will derail all of the work done to build a new and improved trade agreement between Mexico, Canada and the U.S.
Support for the USMCA agreement is in the best interest of every person living in Arizona. For our families, our businesses and the economic prosperity of our state it is the right thing to do. Congress – it’s time to act and to leave the partisan divide behind and support the U.S Mexico Canada agreement.
Lea Marquez Peterson owns Marquez Peterson Group, a public affairs firm. She is the former President of the Tucson Hispanic Chamber and serves on the national board of the United States Hispanic Chamber. She recently ran for Congress in Arizona’s 2nd District.