KRWG

New Mexico needs a trade deal, it’s time for Congress and Trump to get it done

Dec 8, 2019

Commentary: When I ran for office, I promised my constituents I would work with anyone, Republican or Democrat, to get things done and deliver for New Mexico. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has defined our state’s trade economy and growth for the last 20+ years. In those years, we have come to depend on a strong, stable, and predictable trade relationship with our neighbors.  Since 2007, trade has helped increase New Mexico’s exports to Mexico by 350%, the most among any southern border state. But President Trump is right—NAFTA is out of date, our agricultural producers and American workers deserve a better deal, and businesses need certainty.  If we want to continue to grow our economy, we need to get to a yes on USMCA and end disruptive tariff skirmishes. 

 

New Mexicans depend on a good trade deal. This year, I met with Leprino Foods, a cheese factory in Roswell that employs over 600 people, and dairy farmers across the district about the impact of USMCA.  Even when New Mexico dairy isn’t selling directly to Canada, increased market access and new pricing should raise commodity prices across the country.  Meanwhile, truck drivers stand to benefit as USMCA gives our country control over how many Mexican-based carriers can deliver freight in the United States.  Other New Mexicans, like manufacturers and developers in Santa Teresa, oil and gas producers in the Permian Basin, and world-famous New Mexico chile and pecan growers, are waiting for the certainty of resolved negotiations to continue their robust trade.  Our home stands to gain real benefits if we can get to a yes on USMCA.

 

It’s also time we bring certain enforcement to hard-won improvements for workers.  President Trump set out to make a “better deal for our workers,” and we can achieve that together.  He and Congressional leadership negotiated better labor provisions in USMCA, but right now they aren’t enforceable because of an old loophole from NAFTA. Currently, any country in USMCA can ignore the new labor provisions, because any country can unilaterally block dispute panels.  We should fix this.  USMCA will put American workers on a more even playing field, but only if its provisions are enforceable.

 

USMCA will not solve all our trade woes. Those same dairy farmers and producers have spent time and money building a market in China, only to suffer cancelled orders due to political disputes.  Trade skirmishes continue to drive a downtrend in pecan prices, which means many pecan farmers will harvest this year’s pecans while last year’s pecans wait in cold storage. Additionally, steel tariffs impact national energy production. We must end the threats and escalating tariffs currently disrupting trade and undermining global markets.

 

I will not let party politics stop me from doing what is right for New Mexico, and I will work with anyone—Democrats, Republicans, and President Trump—to help deliver for our home.  USMCA isn't perfect yet, but it's entirely necessary for New Mexico's producers, workers and consumers. It's imperative that this bill is brought to the House floor.