USMCA wins support of NH congressional delegation

All four members of New Hampshire’s congressional delegation have endorsed the U.S. Mexico-Canada-Agreement, the successor to the North American Free Trade Agreement pact that was signed in the 1990s.

In fact, citing benefits to New Hampshire businesses, workers and consumers — along with what she said are improved labor and enforcement standards in the new deal — U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan voted on Jan. 7 to support the USMCA as a member of the Senate Finance Committee.

The committee has jurisdiction over trade policy, and the vote was seen as a big step forward as the USMCA moves through Congress.

“In terms of competition, the USMCA boosts American businesses by modernizing our current trade agreement, which pre-dated internet commerce, to protect the flow of digital trade and to better safeguard intellectual property. The agreement also cuts red tape for small exporters by allowing electronic filing of customs forms, an important provision for a small business state like New Hampshire.” Hassan said. “In addition, the deal cuts costs for small businesses by increasing the share of shipments to Canada and Mexico with duty-free status. Further, the USMCA removes
long-standing trade barriers that have prevented dairy farmers in New Hampshire and other states from accessing the Canadian market.”

In voicing her support, Hassan, as well as all of the other members of the all-Democratic congressional delegation, praised the labor enforcement measures contained in the deal, which they say was included at the insistence of Democratic negotiators.

She said “a strong labor enforcement mechanism” helps “remove incentives that would otherwise encourage the outsourcing of jobs.”

Her counterpart in the Senate, Jeanne Shaheen, also has voiced support of the USMCA, stressing the labor and environmental provisions, as well as drug pricing protections, contained in the agreement.

“In reviewing the details of the USMCA and during meetings with New Hampshire business owners, labor leaders and community members, I weighed heavily whether this agreement was in the best interest of our state,” Shaheen said in a statement.

“International trade has long spurred New Hampshire’s economy, creating good paying jobs and opportunities for small businesses,” said Shaheen, who as governor led trade missions overseas and stressed the importance of Granite State businesses entering the global market.

Business, labor support

In December, both of New Hampshire’s members of the U.S. House, Annie Kuster and Chris Pappas, backed the USMCA when the House overwhelmingly approved the measure.

“Cross-border trade is essential to the health of New Hampshire’s economy, as so many businesses rely on exporting goods and services to Canada and Mexico,” said Kuster after her vote, although she added that she “would have liked to see more robust language to address climate change and reduce carbon pollution across North America.”

Pappas called the deal “a major step forward for our workers, farmers, businesses and economy” and also stressed the labor, environmental protection and drug-pricing provisions backed by Democrats.

He said the agreement “will provide New Hampshire businesses with the predictability they need to thrive and grow.”

The USMCA is supported by key business groups in New Hampshire and New England as well as the AFL-CIO in New Hampshire.

Jim Roche, president of the Business and Industry Association of New Hampshire, called the USMCA “an important trade pact for New Hampshire businesses, particularly manufacturers and technology companies,” adding that approval of USMCA “will protect jobs and maintain New Hampshire’s access to a $1.4 billion market.”

“The importance of trade with Canada and Mexico for New England cannot be overstated, and USMCA will be a huge boost for our region’s economy,” said Jim Brett, New England Council president and CEO. “Whether it’s
protecting intellectual property, ensuring data can flow across borders, or implementing strong enforcement measures, businesses throughout New England will benefit from USMCA.”

Glenn Brackett, president of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO, praised the “real labor protections” he said are contained in the agreement. which “gives workers significantly improved protections for workers.”

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