Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds is urging lawmakers in Washington to ratify the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which she says will help bring stability to her state's agriculture industry.
"Our message to Congress is to please rectify the USMCA. That'll bring a lot of certainty and predictability to the market," Reynolds told Cheddar on Thursday.
Following a year of negotiations, the USMCA was signed by President Donald Trump, now former Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last November at the G-20 Summit in Buenos Aires. The trade deal was meant to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which was established in 1994 and created a free trade zone between the three neighbors.
In an overwhelming vote last week, Mexico's General Congress approved the USMCA making Mexico the first country to fully sign onto the deal. The U.S. Congress and the Canadian Parliament have yet to ratify the pact.
"This is a very important advance," Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said at a press conference last week. "It is a clear sign that there is unity in the country."
Canada and Mexico are currently the second and third largest trading partners with the U.S., with total trade topping $617 billion and $611 billion in 2018 respectively, according to government figures.
The USMCA covers numerous aspects of cross-border trade, including labor laws, environmental standards, and intellectual property rights. It also has specific provisions for various sectors like auto manufacturers, digital services, and agriculture. The U.S., for instance, negotiated hard for easier access to the Canadian dairy market.
Democrats, however, have expressed concerns over weak enforcement measures on workers' rights and environmental regulations, and have refused to hold a vote on the deal in the House.
"Without real enforcement mechanisms we would be locking American workers into another bad deal. A new trade agreement without enforcement is not progress for the American worker, just a press release for the President," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a statement in May. "We have been on a path to yes, but it must be a path that leads to an agreement that delivers positive results for American workers and farmers."
Nonetheless, Reynolds told Cheddar that Iowa's economy is growing, despite "some significant challenges with agricultural." Iowa is currently the second largest agricultural exporter in the U.S., with nearly 50 percent of its exports going to Canada and Mexico in 2018.
Farmers "really, really, really would like to see USMCA ratified," the Republican governor said.