Dec 19, 2019House of Representatives ratifies USMCA trade agreement in lopsided vote
The House of Representatives ratified the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) by a vote of 385-41 on Dec. 19. The bill now moves to the Senate.
The passage was lauded by the National Potato Council, which has been urging for approval since the agreement was signed by the respective leaders of Canada, Mexico and the U.S.
“As two of our top trading partners, Canada and Mexico currently represent more than $550 million in annual sales of U.S. potatoes,” said Jared Balcom, chairman of the NPC’s Trade Affairs Commission and a potato farmer in Pasco, Washington. “By eliminating retaliatory tariffs, ratification of USMCA could lead to additional growth opportunities for U.S. potato growers and our industry partners.”
Long supported by NPC and a coalition of U.S. farm, ranch, and agriculture groups, USMCA builds on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Under NAFTA, U.S. agricultural exports to Canada and Mexico have more than quadrupled over the last 25 years.
Canada is the second-largest export market for U.S. potatoes with over $300 million in sales annually. Mexico is the third largest export market for U.S. potatoes comprising over $250 million in annual sales.
Twenty percent of all U.S.-grown potatoes must find buyers in foreign markets. USMCA’s ratification will stabilize the vital export markets of Canada and Mexico by both eliminating the threat of retaliatory tariffs and precluding the loss of tariff benefits previously provided by NAFTA. According to the United States International Trade Commission, the USMCA would increase U.S. GDP by $68.2 billion and employment by 176,000 jobs.
“The ratification of the USMCA will build on the success of NAFTA, leading to freer markets, fairer trade, and a stronger U.S. potato industry,” said Kam Quarles, NPC CEO. “We urge our partners in Mexico and Canada to ratify the pact so we can quickly implement this mutually beneficial win for all of our citizens.”
The USMCA is the second major bill passed by the House in recent days that will have a significant effect on agriculture. The Farm Workforce Modernization Act was ratified by the House on Dec. 11.