Arizona has much to gain with passage of USMCA


It was my privilege and honor to serve in the Arizona Legislature and to fight for the priorities of my district and region. Even since leaving public office, my concern for my district and our state has not waned. Some might consider a former state legislator weighing in on the discussion in Washington regarding the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) going out of one’s lane, but I am left to wonder how anyone in elected office can remain silent. Work isn’t to be done in silos and success isn’t achieved in a vacuum. The USMCA will update and improve our nation’s trade policies so that our communities, states and our country as a whole all benefit, and all elected officials, whether local, statewide, or national, should support this agreement.

Catherine Miranda
Catherine Miranda

Arizona has a lot to gain from passing USMCA.  Some cities within our state will feel the impact faster and with more force than others, but all of Arizona’s citizens will benefit. From ranchers and farmers to manufacturers, from employers to employees, from producers to consumers, there is much to be gained if passed and much to be lost if not.

Currently, more than 228,000 Arizona jobs are directly related to Arizona’s trade with our neighbors in Mexico and in Canada. More than 11 billion dollars in goods and services are exported from Arizona to Mexico and Canada. From produce to engines to computers, the Arizona workforce produces what Mexico and Canada need. In the manufacturing sector alone, those two countries purchase more than two-fifths of our state’s manufacturing exports, according to the National Association of Manufacturers.

The USMCA provides important safeguards for U.S. producers: the agreement levels the playing field for dairymen, protects intellectual property, opens new markets for poultry exports, cuts red tape for small businesses, and provides new, enforceable labor standards. For these reasons and more, every elected official at the local and state level should be reaching out to our state’s representatives in Washington, D.C., urging them to support the USMCA when it comes up for a vote. We should thank those who have committed their support, including our two U.S. senators, and ask those who have not yet committed a yes vote, to do so and stand with Arizona citizens, workers and businesses on this very important issue. A commitment to a yes vote on the USMCA is taking a public stand for the best interests of Arizona workers and our economy, and that should be the priority of every member of our congressional delegation.

With the 2020 election rapidly approaching and ongoing turmoil in Washington, convincing this Congress to do anything will grow increasingly harder. One often wonders if what they do on the other side of the country really matters – will it impact me, or my friends, neighbors and co-workers?  The answer regarding the USMCA is simple: Yes, it will.  So, while it may be tempting for some in our delegation to deny support in order to withhold a win from a president they disagree with politically, or even personally, it would be a disservice to those they are charged with representing.

In short, the USMCA is important to the economic success of our state and its citizens.  Our elected officials must do the right thing. Please join me and take a stand for Arizona and take a stand in support of the USMCA.

Catherine Miranda is an educator, advocate, and four-term former Arizona legislator from Phoenix who remains committed to issues that improve the life of those in her community and Arizona. 

Ducey touts NAFTA, wants role in upcoming trade negotiations

Former U.S. Ambassador to Mexico James Jones, left, and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey talk about the importance of U.S.-Mexico trade at a Woodrow Wilson Center event in Washington. (Photo by J.T. Lain/Cronkite News)
Former U.S. Ambassador to Mexico James Jones, left, and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey talk about the importance of U.S.-Mexico trade at a Woodrow Wilson Center event in Washington. (Photo by J.T. Lain/Cronkite News)

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey told a U.S.-Mexico diplomacy conference June 14 that maintaining good trade between the countries is important, and he expects the state to have a “seat at the table” in any upcoming trade negotiations.

Ducey’s comments, to a conference of business and community leaders from both sides of the border, come a month after President Donald Trump notified Congress of his plans to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Trump has called NAFTA “the worst trade deal ever” and pledged to rework it to get higher-paying jobs for American workers and more economic growth for the nation.

Ducey and other Republican lawmakers in Arizona have praised the deal, which they said has brought billions in new trade to the U.S. While he backs “free and fair trade,” however, Ducey said he is not opposed to a revised version if the pact can be improved.

“The world has changed tremendously since the 1990s,” when NAFTA took effect, said Ducey, adding that he wants Arizona to take a look at the agreement to find areas where it can be modernized and improved.

But some state lawmakers say the pact has done a good job as is.

U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., tweeted that trade between the U.S. and Mexico increased from $50 billion to $500 billion – a 900 percent jump. He is running a social media campaign, #nafta4az, asking Arizonans to send him their personal stories in support of the agreement.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., tweeted that withdrawing from NAFTA would be “a disaster.”

Ducey said Mexico is Arizona’s largest trading partner and he sees economic growth opportunity at the border. But he acknowledged that there are problems and political realities Arizona has to face with Mexico.

James Jones, a former U.S. ambassador to Mexico, said during the luncheon that relations between Arizona and Mexico were strained in recent years.

Arizona made headlines with its SB1070 law, the harsh “papers please” immigration law aimed at cracking down on illegal immigrants. Long lines coupled with intricate inspections at ports-of-entry caused truckers to drive to California or Texas – where inspection lines were shorter – bypassing Arizona entirely.

Ducey stressed the importance of a good relationship with Mexico that he said lets both parties “communicate and put problem solvers together” to jointly address any negatives.

Globalism can’t compete with an aggressive China

China United States trade and American tariffs as two opposing cargo ships as an economic  taxation dispute over import and exports concept as a 3D illustration.
China United States trade and American tariffs as two opposing cargo ships as an economic taxation dispute over import and exports concept as a 3D illustration.

For years, Wall Street enthused about the merits of shifting manufacturing out of the United States. Globalists on Wall Street advocated a simplistic worldview: “It doesn’t matter where things are made—cheaper is better.” But they overlooked the impact this would have on America’s future economic and national security. And now, 20 years later, the United States has lost almost 90,000 factories, nearly 5 million manufacturing jobs, and a wide array of essential supply chains.

This industrial loss has largely been China’s gain. In 2000, for example, the U.S. enjoyed a $5 billion annual trade surplus in advanced technology products. By 2019, however, that had shifted to a $133 billion annual deficit. Pharmaceutical production has been eviscerated, too – 90% of the generic medications that Americans use each day are now imported. And even the raw materials for manufacturing overwhelmingly come from imports. China is the dominant supplier for 23 of the 35 metals and minerals deemed critical for U.S. national security.

China’s manufacturing boom has come on the back of horrific environmental and labor practices that have been conveniently ignored for too long. Each year, a massive brown cloud of soot and debris drifts east from mainland China. And Chinese factories spew an estimated 40,000 tons of ozone-depleting carbon tetrachloride into the atmosphere annually in violation of international agreement. China also employs forced labor, including more than 1 million ethnic Uighurs and other minority groups driven into a vast network of “indoctrination” camps.

It’s impossible to excuse these wanton practices, and even free-trade advocates are waking up to China’s ugly behavior. Such lawlessness has allowed China to gradually surpass America’s high-tech lead — and has finally prompted congressional action. Recently, a bipartisan group of senators introduced bills to aid U.S. semiconductor producers and microelectronics manufacturers that compete with China.

These are important efforts. But will they come in time? Beijing is intent on global dominance and has already launched a “Made in China 2025” campaign to overtake key industries like information technology, robotics, aerospace, electric vehicles, and medical devices.

Michael Stumo
Michael Stumo

Wireless networks and renewable energy systems will likely be a key part of China’s growth strategy. And that leaves the United States in a particularly poor position. Beijing already holds a major advantage in the production and processing of raw materials for high-tech industries. That gives them preferential access to the building blocks of everything from lithium-ion batteries to solar panels. And every iPhone that Americans purchase helps to fund irresponsible mining projects like the Bayan-Obo, a Chinese rare earths site that has dumped toxic sludge into a waste pond three times the size of Central Park.

Despite possessing an estimated $6.2 trillion in mineral reserves, the U.S. still imports nearly $7 billion worth of metals and minerals each year. This is especially relevant for rare earth metals like neodymium, dysprosium, and lanthanum that are used to manufacture electric vehicles, wind turbines, and smart-phones. In fact, China supplies roughly 80% of the rare earths imported by the United States.

If Congress is serious about bolstering our national and economic security, it must prioritize the rebuilding of key industries. A bipartisan Senate bill introduced in May would allocate $10 billion to establish regional technology hubs. That’s a helpful start, but far more is needed. The U.S. must aim for greater industrial self-sufficiency and start producing more of the raw materials — like lithium, graphite, nickel, and rare earths — needed for 21st Century technologies.

To reduce strategic vulnerabilities and lessen global environmental harm, Congress should speed the domestic production of key metals and minerals. The U.S. already adheres to the world’s strictest mining safety and environmental standards. It makes no sense to tolerate China’s continued stranglehold over these key commodities. It’s time for Congress to pursue a comprehensive, bipartisan strategy to win the global competition for good jobs and industries.

Michael Stumo is CEO of the Coalition for a Prosperous America.