Time running out for trade legislation
Time is getting short for the approval of legislation implementing a trade agreement with Canada and Mexico, members of the Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce learned last week.
With only about 25 legislative days left this year in Congress and impeachment proceedings, Western Regional Director for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Jennings Imel said the modernization of the North American Free Trade Agreement has been a No. 1 priority for 2019.
“Especially with the impeachment inquiry under way, it’s taking up a lot of bandwidth in the House,” he said. “It’s going to be challenging.”
The U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement addresses many things that didn’t exist when NAFTA was approved, including protections on digital trade.
“There are strong intellectual property protections as well that weren’t addressed in the original agreement,” Imel said.
Trademarks, intellectual property and even keeping trade secrets that would be protected in Mexico and Canada as they are in the United States.
He said that $3.4 billion in goods were exported to Canada and Mexico from Nevada in 2017. There are 107,000 Silver State jobs supported by trade with the two nations.
“When you look at imports, 60 percent are used as inputs for Nevada manufacturers. They’re essential components that are used in the manufacturing process.”
He said that over the last decade, the amount of trade has gone up 75 percent with the two neighboring countries, which are largest trading partners with the United States and Nevada.
“It makes a lot of sense to get this trade deal done, especially with so much trade uncertainty elsewhere,” he said.
The actual treaty was signed at the end of last year but the sticking point is getting implementing legislation through the House for a vote.
The danger of waiting until next year is the difficulty passing trade legislation in an election year.
Imel said that President Trump, while in favor of the legislation, has threatened to pull the United States out of the trade agreement if Congress doesn’t act.
“You have to take that threat seriously, especially with what’s happened on the China trade front,” Imel said. “He’s tended to follow through on these threats he’s made.”
He said that additional tariffs that were scheduled have not been implemented against China this month, but that a Dec. 15 tariff deadline remains.
Imel said $527 million in exports from Nevada have been hit by tariffs, which is just a fraction of the $150 billion in American exports.