01.15.20

Gardner Urges USMCA Passage on the Senate Floor

Gardner voted to advance the North American trade agreement out of two committees today

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) spoke on the floor of the United States Senate today, urging his colleagues to support the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).  

USMCA Floor Remarks SS

NOTE: Click here or the picture above to view Senator Gardner’s remarks. 

“USMCA is an important opportunity for the United States to gain more jobs, incentivize more economic growth, and create more opportunity for the people of Colorado. This agreement will continue to boost Colorado’s already vibrant trade relationship with our two largest global trading partners, Mexico and Canada,” said Senator Gardner. “Without a free trading relationship between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada, Colorado’s agriculture community would suffer, leaving dairy farmers in Northern Colorado, wheat farmers on the Eastern Plains, cattle ranchers on the Western Slope, and potato farmers in the San Luis Valley, among others, without major marketplaces for their exports. We have to give all of our Colorado exporters the best chance to access markets around the world and USMCA is a welcome modern agreement that helps us retain that access in North America.” 

Earlier today the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed USMCA implementing legislation with Gardner’s support in each committee. Once the legislation passes all relevant Committees, it will come to the Senate floor for an up-or-down vote without amendment. 

Remarks as delivered:

Thank you, Mr. President.

Over the last several years, Congress has had significant debates on trade – the importance of trade, what it means to our markets, what it means to exports, and what it means to states like mine, in Colorado. 

The USMCA is incredibly important as we turn to that debate this week. 

NAFTA – what it meant to Colorado was incredibly significant, the number of jobs that it created. The US-Korea Free Trade Agreement – the number of jobs that that agreement created. We have seen the benefits of trade in a state like Colorado for a number of years, and we see the opportunity with additional trade agreements in the future as well.

This past Congress, we adopted the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act, which created a U.S.-Asia trade partnership, opportunities for that partnership in energy, whether that’s renewable energy or traditional energy.

But this week, Congress turns its focus to USMCA and its modernization of the North America Free Trade Agreement.

We have to continue looking for new trade opportunities, ways to open up trade around the globe. It’s vitally important for agriculture, to our electronic sector, to our service sector, and people of all walks of life and business in Colorado understand the importance of trade and what it means to our industry.

If we don’t seek out new trade opportunities, it’s not like we’re operating just by ourselves, we know what will happen. We will see China, India, and other countries displace us, build new supply chains, and go around the United States. And we will end up losing those market opportunities, those investment opportunities, and the jobs that go along with it. 

If we don’t open up new trade opportunities, farmers and ranchers in my home state will suffer. We’ve already seen incredibly low commodity prices hurt our agricultural communities.

One way to overcome that is to open up new markets, creating value-added opportunities in those new markets. That’s how we can add one more potential tool to our ag economy to help make them survive and thrive.

We have new product flows all the time out of our state, and this USMCA agreement is one more way that we can create that new flow of opportunity.

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) supports nearly 14 million jobs around the United States, that’s thousands of jobs in all 50 states. Despite its benefits however, we can always do a better job of making sure that it meets the need of our modern day economy, that we modernize NAFTA. Modernizing NAFTA to increase market access, expand energy exports to maximize domestic energy production and including provisions on intellectual property and e-commerce will make this agreement even more beneficial to the United States.

You know you think back to 1994 and that timeframe, pre-iPhones and iPads and so much of the technology that we have today, this agreement was in place before that. And that’s why modernizing this agreement makes sense. 

The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) is incredibly important to the state of Colorado as I mentioned with nearly 220,000 jobs in Colorado, a great pro-trade state, that are directly related to USMCA out of 750,000 trade-related jobs.

Canada and Mexico are our state’s largest trading partners, obviously that makes sense, we’re right in the middle of the states. Between Colorado, Canada, and Mexico, we trade more than $2.7 billion worth of goods, supporting those 222,000 jobs that I just talked about.

Colorado farmers produce nearly half of all of the potatoes that Mexico imports from the United States, and we supply about 97% of all U.S. beverages to Mexico. Mexico’s certainly been able to tap the Rockies when it comes to our beverage production in Colorado. 

And our biggest export? Beef. It accounts for more than $880 million worth of goods shipped to Mexico and Canada.

In 2018, Colorado exported more than $45 million worth of milk, cream, cheese, and related dairy products to Mexico. Meanwhile, we only exported about $2.2 million worth of those products to Canada. USMCA will reform Canada’s protectionist dairy policies and help American dairy farmers access the dairy markets in Canada, so that we can increase our exports to Canada in cream, milk, cheese, and other dairy areas.

We sent more than $31 million worth of cereals like wheat to Mexico in 2018 and more than $2 million to Canada.

Even our sugar and candy manufacturers benefit from trade with Mexico and Canada. I just had a meeting with the sugar cooperative in Colorado, talking about the importance of trade and getting this trade agreement right.

Both countries have received more than $14 million each worth of Colorado sugar and confectionary exports.

Increased trade with these countries will also benefit the beverage industry in Colorado, as I mentioned 97 percent of the beverages Mexico imports from Colorado, shipping more than $63 million worth of beverages to Canada in 2018.

And beyond commodities like wheat, dairy, and sugar, beyond those commodities Colorado’s electronic machinery manufacturers shipped Canada more than $105 million worth of its goods in 2018 and Mexico received about $60 million worth of our electronic goods.

USMCA includes new digital provisions to account for this changing landscape of new technologies, advanced manufacturing products, and tackles the issue of cross-border data flow, something that was in its very infancy when NAFTA was enacted.

We know that USMCA is a better opportunity for us to gain even more jobs, more income, more opportunity for the state of Colorado.

We know that these trade agreements add to the household income across our state, that it benefits our economy. This agreement brings opportunity to all four corners of our state.

New customs and trade rules will cut red tape and make it easier for Colorado startups and entrepreneurs to sell their products into Canada and to Mexico. U.S. agricultural and food exports are expected to rise more than $2 billion every year if USMCA is adopted.

And what that means to Colorado, so many goods from Colorado on our top-ten exported items are ag-related, this $2 billion a year increase will mean significant opportunities for Colorado agriculture.

Obviously I’m very encouraged by the Senate Finance Committee reporting the agreement out favorably last week. I was honored to support the USMCA this morning by voting for the agreement, voting it out of the Commerce Committee and out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, two committees on which I serve on, just this morning. And I look forward to its expeditious passage here in the United States Senate. 

I live in rural Colorado, surrounded by wheat farms, corn farms, hog producers, feed lots, and I know how important trade is to our state. And this agreement, to modernize and continue our agreement with Canada and Mexico, is critical to the survival of agriculture in Colorado and this country.

And I know with new markets opening around the world, this agreement will continue to be the keystone of Colorado trade.

We stand to benefit enormously from this update. Our farmers and ranchers are counting on us to get this done. Our manufacturers are counting on us to get this done. Our economy depends on us getting this done.

Thank you, Mr. President. I yield the floor.

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Cory Gardner is a member of the U.S. Senate serving Colorado. He sits on the Energy & Natural Resources Committee, the Foreign Relations Committee, the Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee, and is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy.