It’s time for Congress to act

Iowa and the nation need US-Mexico Canada Agreement

During a recent round of town hall and other meetings back home in Iowa, U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst discovered there is widespread concern all across the state that Congress has yet to approve the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. This trade pact was signed on Nov. 30, 2018. To become effective it requires approval by the legislative bodies of all three nations. That has already happened in Mexico and is about to occur in Canada. In the United States, however, it has yet to move through Congress.

Iowa’s Republican U.S. senators — Ernst and Charles Grassley — have worked hard to get Senate approval for the agreement. Support for the pact is substantial in that Republican-controlled body. The situation in the U.S. House of Representatives is less clear. There is bipartisan support for the USMCA in the House. Even so, many Democrats seem reluctant to support the measure because they view doing so as giving the Trump administration a victory.

That’s wrongheaded and very shortsighted.

The USMCA is an excellent trade arrangement. It will benefit all three countries. It is also vitally important for Iowa. Trade with Mexico and Canada already is hugely important to the Hawkeye State. If the USMCA is approved, those exports will continue and have the potential to grow.

In remarks on the Senate floor, Ernst outlined for her colleagues why the USMCA is important to Iowans. Here are some of the facts about trade and this agreement that she shared:

• One in five jobs in Iowa is tied to trade.

• Canada and Mexico are the top export markets for Iowa products.

• In 2018, the value of Iowa products sold in Canada and Mexico totaled $6.6 billion.

• The value of Iowa’s trade with Canada and Mexico exceeded the combined worth of the state’s exports to the next 27 nations that are markets for our state, ranked in order of trade volume.

America’s exceptionally strong economy would be even more robust if this nation were able to sell in the international marketplace more of the products that are grown here. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, exports already produce about 20 percent of farm income. The potential for further growth in those foreign sales is enormous. The USMCA is a key part of our nation’s strategy for increasing agricultural exports.

“It’s critical that we get the USMCA across the finish line,” Ernst said in her Senate remarks. “But not just for the sake of getting a tremendous win for our agriculture community, but finalizing a deal that will impact the livelihoods of hardworking Iowans, and all Americans across the country. … When it comes to trade with our neighbors to the north and the south, it’s simple: we need the USMCA passed through Congress as soon as possible.”

The Messenger strongly agrees. We commend Ernst and Grassley for being diligent champions of USMCA. It’s been nearly eight months since the three nations agreed to this trade deal. It’s long since time for Congress to give its approval to this crucial trade pact. It’s time for Congress to act.