Today’s a big day! The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) finally goes into effect across North America.
In this uneasy time full of conflict and intense partisanship, it’s worth taking a moment to celebrate the bipartisan effort of Arizona’s congressional delegation to secure passage of this historic trade agreement. All 11 Republican and Democratic senators and representatives voted unanimously in favor of the USMCA, and they served as a model of compromise and cooperation for a divided Congress.
It wasn’t just our delegation that provided leadership. Their united position was influenced by a groundswell of support that included our Legislature, which unanimously passed a memorial calling on the president and Congress to negotiate and pass the USMCA “to maintain the global competitiveness of Arizona’s businesses and citizens.”
Gov. Doug Ducey played a national leadership role in building political support for the agreement. Mayors and county administrators across the state joined in to ensure state and federal government officials understood the potential positive impacts of the agreement on Arizona’s economy.
Economic development and trade associations from across Arizona also advocated for passage. The Arizona Technology Council was joined by groups including Chicanos Por La Causa, Arizona-Mexico Commission, Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Western Growers Association, Sun Corridor Inc., Greater Phoenix Economic Council, Canada Arizona Business Council, and Arizona Lodging & Tourism Association.
One reason for solidarity across Arizona’s political and economic development spectrum is the state benefited so significantly from USMCA’s predecessor, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Nearly 250,000 Arizona jobs relied on $10.5 billion in manufactured goods exported last year to Mexico and Canada under NAFTA. That doesn’t include the jobs tied to billions of dollars in services revenue generated by Mexican and Canadian visitors to our state who shopped in our stores, ate in our restaurants and stayed in our hotels.
The rollout of the USMCA couldn’t happen at a more important time for Arizona. The trade agreement creates new opportunities for post-pandemic economic recovery tied to job creation, export growth and foreign direct investment in Arizona. At a time when companies around the world are looking to derisk their supply chains, a stable North American trading bloc has much to offer. Arizona in particular offers a near perfect combination of geographic, regulatory and relationship advantages. As a border state with superior physical infrastructure, Arizona provides an excellent platform for trade across North America. Our favorable regulatory environment serves as a magnet for facility relocation opportunities. Add to that our state’s long and friendly relationship with the people, governments and businesses of Mexico and Canada, which has created an atmosphere of cooperation and trust that is second to none.
Now, as we take careful steps to reopen our economy and position our state to take advantage of new opportunities for job creation under USMCA, we look again to Arizona’s elected officials to provide bipartisan national leadership on the next wave of initiatives related to international trade in goods and services. We need them to continue advancing a fair and open global trading environment that allows businesses to compete successfully in international markets and Arizona’s tourism industry to welcome international visitors once again when it’s safe to do so. While appropriate health and safety measures are essential at this time, it’s important to recognize our nation’s long-term success lies in international cooperation, not isolation.
Hopefully, Congress soon will have new opportunities to approve trade agreements with Japan, the United Kingdom, the European Union and other areas around the globe. We look to our congressional delegation to again provide bipartisan leadership on this important national issue.