Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, has scheduled a markup of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) for Jan. 7. He said he expects the Senate to receive the legislation from the House by then.
“This markup will move us closer to ratifying USMCA in early 2020,” Grassley said in a Dec. 20 announcement. “Farmers, manufacturers and all American workers will soon be able to benefit from a stronger and modernized trade agreement with Canada and Mexico.”
More than a year after U.S., Canadian and Mexican heads of state announced the trade deal, the House approved the USMCA by a strong bipartisan 385-41 vote on Dec. 19.
“Having a sound and competitive free trade agreement with Mexico and Canada is critical to the continued economic success of the United States and the North American region,” said NGFA President and Chief Executive Officer Randy Gordon in a media statement following the House vote. “The USMCA preserves or expands upon critical market access for U.S. agricultural products in the North American market and provides a 21st century blueprint for future trade agreements.”
House Democrats and the Trump administration spent months negotiating over pharmaceutical, labor, environmental and enforcement provisions in the accord.
“NGFA particularly appreciates the dedication and persistence of U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and House leadership to overcome final hurdles to reach this milestone,” Gordon said in NGFA’s media statement. “We urge the Senate to continue progress on this vital agreement for the United States and the entire North American region by ratifying USMCA as soon as possible.”
After the House approved the deal, Grassley told reporters he hoped his panel could vote on the USMCA implementing legislation before the Senate impeachment trial of President Trump is completed, but reaffirmed previous statements from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., that it won’t be considered on the Senate floor until the trial ends.
The USMCA trade agreement will preserve or expand upon critical market access for U.S. agricultural products in the North American market. In addition to maintaining a tariff-free environment for most agricultural goods, USMCA also will help address non-tariff barriers, which are paramount among the current global challenges that distort and slow cross-border trade flows. Among other benefits, USMCA will: Facilitate cross-border trade flows through higher levels of regulatory coherence and cooperation; implement timelines and notification processes for adverse import checks; reduce the likelihood of trade disruptions in products of agricultural biotechnology; apply technical consultations for sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) disputes and create a mechanism for expeditiously resolving cross-border SPS issues on individual shipments; and require that SPS standards be grounded in science, based on proper risk assessments and implemented using prudent risk-management techniques.
NGFA members continuously have been urging their members of Congress to approve USMCA, utilizing the Association’s advocacy tool available at ngfa.org/advocacy. When the Senate considers the trade deal, NGFA will appeal to its members again to rev up grassroots support of USMCA.
Once Senate ratification occurs, the NGFA will turn its attention to working with the U.S. government in implementing the provisions of USMCA, particularly those dealing with sanitary and phytosanitary and agricultural biotechnology issues.