U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today discussed the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which arrived in the Senate after months of delay by House Democrats. Thune, a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, discussed the importance of this trade deal after the committee approved it by voice vote, bringing it one step closer to passage in the Senate. Thune is also a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee and Senate Finance Committee, which has primary jurisdiction over trade policy. The Finance Committee approved USMCA by a vote of 25-3 on January 7, 2020.
Click here to watch Thune’s speech.
Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery):
“Mr. President, later today, the president will sign Phase One of the trade agreement we’re negotiating with China.
“Of particular importance to my state, Phase One includes a pledge from China to substantially increase its imports of American agriculture products.
“That’s good news for South Dakota farmers and ranchers, who have been struggling in a tough agriculture economy.
“Low commodity and livestock prices, natural disasters, and protracted trade disputes have made the last few years challenging ones for farmers and ranchers around the country.
“I spend a lot of time in South Dakota talking to our farmers and ranchers.
“And one thing they always emphasize is the need for trade deals that will open up new markets or expand current markets for their products.
“The China deal should significantly increase demand for American agricultural products and boost the farm economy.
“But while this agreement is excellent news, we do need to make sure that China will actually live up to its commitments.
“China doesn’t have the best record in this regard, and it’s important that the United States make clear that any agreements must be honored.
“As we wait for the China deal to take effect, one piece of definite good news on the trade front is the arrival of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement in Congress.
“After months of delay by House Democrats, USMCA is finally moving through Congress.
“Here in the Senate, it’s advancing rapidly through the required committees, and I expect it to receive final Senate consideration in the next few days.
“Last week, I voted in support of this agreement in the Senate Finance Committee, and just this morning – a few minutes ago in fact – I voted for this agreement in a meeting of the Senate Commerce Committee.
“The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement has been a big priority of mine over the past year, in particular because of the ways the agreement would benefit farmers and ranchers.
“Canada and Mexico are the number-one and number-two markets for American agriculture products, and this agreement will preserve and expand farmers’ access to these two critical export markets and give farmers certainty about what these markets will look like going forward.
“I’m particularly pleased about the ways that USMCA will benefit dairy farmers.
“Drive the I-29 corridor north of Brookings, and you can see firsthand the major dairy expansion South Dakota has experienced over the past several years.
“The U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement will preserve U.S. dairy farmers’ role as a key dairy supplier to Mexico, and it will substantially expand market access in Canada.
“The U.S. International Trade Commission estimates that the agreement will boost U.S. dairy exports by more than $277 million.
“The agreement will also expand market access for U.S. poultry and egg producers.
“It will make it easier for U.S. producers to export wheat to Canada.
“And of course the benefits of this agreement are not limited to farmers and ranchers.
“The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement will benefit virtually every sector of our economy, from manufacturing to digital services to the automotive industry.
“It will create hundreds of thousands of new jobs, boost our economic output, and increase wages for workers.
“The agreement also breaks new ground by including a chapter specifically focused on small and medium-sized businesses – the first time a U.S. trade agreement has ever included a dedicated chapter on this topic.
“Roughly 120,000 small and medium-sized businesses around our country export goods and services to Mexico and Canada, including a number of businesses in my home state of South Dakota.
“The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement will make it easier for these businesses to successfully export their products.
“South Dakota businesses and consumers will also benefit from the fact that the agreement maintains the current U.S. de minimis threshold, something I fought hard to protect.
“Mr. President, it’s too bad farmers and ranchers had to wait so long for USMCA.
“This agreement was concluded well over a year ago, and it could have been taken up much sooner.
“But House Democrats have unfortunately been more focused on playing political games than on working with Republicans to do the American people’s business.
“I’m very glad we’ve taken up this agreement now, though, and I look forward to voting for final passage of USMCA in the very near future.
“We should get this agreement to the president’s desk without delay."