President Donald Trump on Monday unveiled a new trade agreement with Canada and Mexico that will replace the North American Free Trade Agreement. Rep. Roger Marshall (R-Kansas) told the Great Bend Tribune that “NAFTA 2.0” will have positive ramifications for Kansas.
“Canada signed on (Sunday) night,” Marshall said. “We thought it might be a bilateral agreement (between the U.S. and Mexico), but it’s much, much better as a trilateral agreement.”
In a news conference Monday, Trump said he will try a similar approach with the European Union, China, Japan, and potentially Brazil and India.
The new agreement — renamed USMCA (United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement) — will go to Congress for approval and Marshall said the president hopes to sign it before Christmas.
While USMCA is important for all Americans, it is especially important to Kansas, said Marshall, a Great Bend physician who was elected to Congress in 2016.
“NAFTA contributes 400,000 jobs across the state, so 400,000 jobs dependant upon NAFTA, the second most of any other state in the union,” he said. “There are $2.5 billion of exports from Kansas to Canada every year, and almost $2 billion of exports from Kansas to Mexico every year. This is our number one and two trade partner for this country and especially for agriculture.”
Good for agriculture
“It is the biggest trade deal in the history of the United States,” Marshall said. “I want to say a big thank you to people who stood beside me and didn’t throw me under the bus on this issue. Kansas agriculture had some short-term pain here but they stood beside the president, stood beside myself, gave us the time to make a stronger NAFTA agreement which is going to be a better deal for Kansas and America.”
Kansas Farm Bureau, Kansas Livestock Association and Dairy Farmers of America are among the agricultural groups cited by Marshall.
“They stood by us,” he said. “They allowed the president to present a strong agreement. (This summer) the president told me farmers are the greatest patriots of our country. He’s stayed true to his word and given us a much stronger trade agreement. This is the best economic news for Kansas since the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.”
Kansas dairy operations will greatly benefit from the new agreement, Marshall said.
“A new milk processing plant in Garden City opened a year ago. Kansas has the fastest-growing dairy herd in the nation,” he said. “But over the last two years, Canada has dumped powdered milk onto the world market, undercutting the price in Garden City. They were selling it for less than we could make it for. The USMCA agreement will put an end to that.”
The agreement also helps Kansas wheat exports, he said.
“Right now, Canada has barriers going into Canada by manipulating the grading process. They basically are downgrading our wheat even though we have the highest quality in the world.”
Good for the 21st Century
NAFTA went into effect in 1994, just four years after the internet became known to the public as the World Wide Web. The new version takes a 21st Century approach to intellectual property and contemporary issues, Marshall said. “USMCA has a whole new chapter on biotechnology. It has references to gene editing for new grain development,” he said.
The chapter on intellectual property increases patent protections on pharmaceuticals from three years to 10 years.
“Canada does not respect our copyrights right now,” Marshall continued. “USMCA will change that.”
Marshall sees USMCA as a win-win-win for the nations of North America. After all, the United States is the world’s largest consumer, and Canada and Mexico enjoy duty-free access. “We have to work together to compete with the rest of the world,” he said.
It also sets the tone for trade agreements with other nations.
“China rips us off by $500 billion a year on intellectual property,” he said. “This is taking everything to a higher level of respect.”
See the story "Trump Administration describes proposed USMCA" for more highlights of the agreement.